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A continuing downward trend in Somali piracy has led major shipping organizations to reduce the geographical limits of the ‘High Risk Zone’ (HRA) for piracy in the Indian Ocean, which will apply from 1 September 2021.
Generally speaking, the changes agreed by BIMCO, ICS, INTERCARGO, INTERTANKO and OCIMF, representing the global oil and maritime industries, will reduce the limits of the HRA to the Yemeni and Somali territorial seas and the exclusive economic zones in their eastern and south reaches.
The organizations, in consultation with international partners, will also adopt a new comprehensive approach to assessing threats to international maritime security to enable shipowners and operators to fully measure the risk of travel around the world. This second step is expected to be completed on December 31.
The HRA was created at the height of the Somali piracy threat in 2010 to show shipowners, operators and seafarers where pirates were operating and where additional vigilance was required to prevent attacks.
Subsequent updates to the HRA have reflected the changing nature of threats in the region, including the successful suppression of Somali pirate action. Somali pirate groups have not attacked a merchant ship since 2017, while new asymmetric threats from local conflict and insurgents have emerged, as well as more serious security threats, such as piracy in West Africa, requiring change in the way the industry assesses such hazards.
“The security landscape is constantly evolving and as new security threats have emerged or intensified outside the Indian Ocean, it has become clear that the HRA is outdated and misleading. At the height of the crisis, the HRA was essential in raising awareness of the threat from Somali pirates and the need for mitigation measures, but it has essentially served its purpose of protecting crews and vessels in the region. Now our attention must shift to ensuring we cover all threats to maritime security around the world so that we can continue to protect the lives of our seafarers and keep global trade moving, ”said Guy Platten, ICS Secretary General.
For his part, David Loosley, Secretary General and CEO of BIMCO added that the current form of the HRA is no longer the best way to guide maritime security risk management processes.
“As demonstrated by the recent security incidents in the waters around the Arabian Peninsula, we need a more detailed approach to the concepts of threat and risk. The next logical step is to develop a global threat-based concept that captures how ships of various types, sizes, nationalities, owners, etc. they face different levels of risk, “he said.