Vigilance Essential Despite Reduction to Piracy High Risk Area in the Indian Ocean

The Round Table of international shipping associations plus the OCIMF representing the global shipping and oil industry have announced the geographic boundaries of the ‘High Risk Area’ for piracy in the Indian Ocean have been reduced, with new advice issued to merchant ship operators.

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The High Risk Area reflects the area where the threat from piracy exists, whilst recognising the ongoing containment of pirate attacks in the Indian Ocean. The industry group of shipping and oil industry organisations BIMCO, International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), INTERCARGO, INTERTANKO and the Oil Companies International Marine Forum (OCIMF) responsible for setting the High Risk Area emphasised that a serious threat remains despite the reduction to the area’s geographic boundaries and that correct reporting, vigilance and adherence to 5th edition of the best management practice (BMP5) remains crucial.

The reduction to the High Risk Area takes full account of recent shipping industry experience, pirate intent and capability and follows extensive consultation with nations, collations and military naval forces, including Combined Maritime Forces, EUNAVFOR and the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO), which continue to provide vital advice and protection to shipping.

The regional UKHO Maritime Security Chart, Q6099 will be updated by Notice to Mariners and a new version produced to reflect these changes which take effect from 01 May 2019.  

The advice can be downloaded via the industry organisations website:
https://www.maritimeglobalsecurity.org/risksissues/piracy/
In summary:

  • The area previously classified as “high risk” forms only a part of the area called the Voluntary Reporting Area (VRA);
  • Ships entering the VRA are encouraged to report to the UKMTO to be monitored during transit and register with the Maritime Security Centre for the Horn of Africa (MSCHOA);
  • Pre-transit risk assessments should take into account the latest information from both the VRA and High Risk Area.

The industry associations further emphasised that in view of the continuing threat of pirate attacks, shipping companies must continue to maintain full compliance with BMP5 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.
The industry associations will continue to monitor developments to the security situation, and will adjust the HRA again if and when the situation warrants it.