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Somali piracy lull prompts High Risk Area trim

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Shipping organisations have agreed a size reduction of the High Risk Area (HRA) for piracy in the Indian Ocean.

HRA was introduced to counter the threat of Somali piracy around 2010, when vessels were routinely hijacked off the Somali coast and held for ransom. Vessels entering the HRA were advised to take extra security precautions in line with Best Management Practices to Deter Piracy and Enhance Maritime Security in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea (BMP). The hijackings led to the deaths of dozens of seafarers. Of the thousands of seafarers taken hostage, many were subject to abuse and suffered injury and emotional trauma.

The hijackings also came at great commercial cost.

The latest change has been triggered by a continued decline in piracy off the coast of Somalia, and comes as the responsible organisations work on broader, global maritime security risk assessment guidelines.

The reduction in the HRA will apply from September 1 2021, and the associations’ work on broader maritime security threats is due to be completed by the end of 2021.

Agreed by Bimco, ICS, Intercargo, Intertanko, and OCIMF the new HRA boundaries will cover Yemeni and Somali Territorial Seas and Exclusive Economic Zones in its eastern and southern reaches.

Guy Platten, ICS Secretary General said: “The security landscape is constantly evolving, and as new security threats have emerged or intensified outside the Indian Ocean it has become clear the HRA is outdated and misleading. At the height of the crisis the HRA was essential in raising awareness of the Somali Pirate threat and the need to apply mitigation measures, but it has essentially served its purpose in protecting crews and vessels in the region. Now our attention must shift to ensure we cover all maritime security threats around the globe so we continue to protect the lives of our seafarers and keep global trade moving.”

Intertanko Managing Director, Katherina Stanzel, said: “This new designation is an interim measure to allow for the continued application of BMP 5 whilst the Co-Authors undertake substantive work to address maritime security threats in a global context.”

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