Looming Threats in the Indian Ocean



Presently, for commercial shipping, the Indian Ocean is arguably the safest ocean on the planet. It remains extremely vulnerable and dependent on international navies maintaining a presence in the Indian Ocean.  The majority of vessels need to be protected by armed guards. Speculative approaches by skiffs equipped with assault rifles and ladders are often reported.  A MAST team recently fired warning shots at a skiff in the southern Red Sea. Periodically commercial vessels report similar approaches, exposing the latent threats.

There are warning signs of deteriorating security situation. Illegal fishing in the Indian Ocean and Horn of Africa might be a catalyst for a return to piracy.  Interviews of Somalis in Puntland revealed a potentially dangerous sense of resentment that the international community is inactive to illegal fishing. A number of convicted pirates In July returned to their homes in Somalia when the Government of Kenya released them.

But, without a proper rehabilitation programme in place, the Pirates may turn their attention to more piracy.

Presently the released Pirates are seeking work as armed guards in ocean-going fishing vessels. The table may turn from providing security to the fishing vessel to taking the vessel hostage and using it as a pirate mother ship.  Fortunately, there seems to be a shift in mood amongst Somalis against piracy in recent months, viewing it as an economic obstacle rather than an economic opportunity in itself. However, unless there are real opportunities for ordinary Somalis to prosper, the risk in  favour of piracy is enormous.

Source: MAST