Dutch shipowners with vessels passing regularly through areas frequented by pirates will now be able to carry their own security guards who are permitted to carry arms and fire if necessary.
A majority of MPs, including the coalition Christian party ChristenUnie, voted for the measure which was favoured by the maritime community, on Thursday evening, public broadcaster NOS reported.
Pirates have a heavy presence along the coast of Somalia in west Africa and in the Gulf of Aden and have seized many merchant vessels in the past, despite patrols by the EU’s anti-pirate mission.
Shipowners have been asking to be allowed to employ private security guards who can use force for many years.
MPs have now agreed, with the proviso that the guards are equipped with bodycams and a 360-degree sound camera is mounted on the ship itself. This means officials can evaluate any incidences afterwards to determine whether force was actually necessary.
Denmark, Spain, Norway and Britain already allow shipping firms to use private security guards when travelling close to the Somali coast.