A continued downward trend in Somali piracy has prompted shipping organisations to reduce the geographic boundaries of the High Risk Area (HRA) for piracy in the Indian Ocean, which will apply from September 1 2021.
In broad terms, the changes agreed by BIMCO, ICS, INTERCARGO, INTERTANKO, and OCIMF, representing the global shipping and oil industries, will reduce the HRA boundaries to the Yemeni and Somali Territorial Seas and Exclusive Economic Zones in its eastern and southern reaches.
The organisations, in consultation with international partners, will also take a comprehensive new approach to assessing international maritime security threats to allow shipowners and operators to fully gauge the risk of voyages worldwide. This second step is expected to be completed by December 31.
The HRA was created at the height of the Somali piracy threat in 2010 to show shipowners, operators, and seafarers where pirates operated and where extra vigilance was required to avoid 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 vessel since 2017, while new asymmetric threats from local conflicts and insurgents have emerged as well as the existence of more severe security threats, such as piracy off West Africa, necessitating a change in how industry assesses such dangers to shipping.