Piracy risk in Indian Ocean drops

The size of the ‘High Risk Area’ for piracy in the Indian Ocean has been reduced, organisations representing the global shipping and oil industry announced yesterday and issued new advice to merchant ship operators.

The reduction to the High Risk Area comes in response to the ongoing containment of pirate attacks in the Indian Ocean, but a group of shipping and oil industry organisations-BIMCO, International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), Intercargo, INTERTANKO and the Oil Companies International Marine Forum (OCIMF)- stressed that a serious threat remains and that correct reporting and vigilance remains crucial.

“The reduction of the High Risk Area takes full account of recent shipping industry experience, and follows extensive consultation with governments through the diplomatic Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, and military naval forces, including NATO, Combined Maritime Forces and EU NAVFOR, which continue to provide vital protection to shipping,”a joint press statement reads.

In summary, the area previously classified as “high risk” now forms only a part of the area called the Voluntary Reporting Area (VRA). Ships entering the VRA must still register with the Maritime Security Centre for the Horn of Africa (MSCHOA) and report to the United Kingdom Marine Trade Operations (UKMTO) to be monitored during transit.

In addition, pre-transit risk assessments should take into account the latest information from both the Voluntary Reporting Area and High Risk Area.

The new industry advice, which takes effect from 1 December, changes that currently contained in the latest edition of Best Management Practices for Protection against Somali Based Piracy (BMP 4), which is jointly produced by the industry group.

The industry associations emphasised that in view of the continuing high risk of pirate attack, shipping companies must continue to maintain full compliance with the BMP and be vigilant in their voluntary reporting on piracy incidents, sighting of potential pirates, and any suspicious activity – as this provides crucial intelligence on risk levels in the area. 

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