The International Maritime groups have amended the boundaries of a high-risk security zone in the Indian Ocean.
- The reduction of the BMP4 High-Risk Area (HRA) – which has been in place since 2012 to indicate piracy-prone waters in response to an increasing number of attacks on trade vessels at that time – came into force on December 1, following intense lobbying by the Indian government.
- India had claimed the zone had the effect of diverting ships along the Indian coast, complicating trade routes and causing congestion and collisions.
- The move is expected to streamline trade between India and the Gulf but increase the risk of attacks by Somali pirates.
- India argued that the Indian Navy and Coast Guard had provided escorting facilities to ships in the Arabian Sea, as well as 24-hour security to foil any potential attack. As a result, no pirate attack or hijacking had occurred in the last three years, it claimed.
Gerry Northwood, COO of UK-based maritime security company MAST and a former Royal Navy counter-piracy commander, told Arabian Business: “With the new HRA in place, shipowners may start to take a more direct route between the Gulf of Oman and the southern tip of India. Previously, many vessels were routing along the Indian coast to avoid the HRA, and this was disrupting Indian coastal traffic and fisheries.
He added that the HRA reduction would be watched closely by the insurance industry and wider business community, as “any return to the level of piracy seen in the western Indian Ocean in 2011 and 2012 would have a very detrimental effect on insurance rates and some companies’ revenues.”
Somali piracy cost the global economy a reported $6 billion in 2012. The Joint War Committee at global insurer Lloyd’s of London is due to meet later in December to discuss the likely financial impact of the redrawn HRA in the Indian Ocean.
Source: Arabian Business