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CGPCS reconfigured piracy High Risk Area in the Indian Ocean

High Risk Area in the Indian Ocean

The Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS) on October 2015 reconfigured the Indian Ocean piracy High Risk Area (HRA). As per the reconfiguration, the eastern limit of the HRA has been reverted back to the 65 degrees east from the 78 degrees east limit that has been in force since June 2010.

A decision in this regard was taken by the European Union Chair of the CGPCS and will come into effect from 1 December 2015. The decision to minimize the limit was taken in view of the progress made in fighting piracy in the west coast of India that is evident from the fact that there was not a single incident of piracy in the HRA since 2012.

What is piracy HRA?
The High Risk Area (HRA) is a designated area where it is considered there is a higher risk of piracy and within which self-protective measures are required to protect shipping and seafarers. The declaration of an area as HRA mandate that all the ships plying in the area should adopt Best Management Practices (BMP) like deployment of armed personnel on board the vessels, subscribing to insurance, travelling through designated sea lanes, etc.

To utilize this mechanism, a piracy High Risk Area (HRA) was declared by the CGPCS in the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean in 2010 to fight piracy off the Somalia coast. However, since its inception the HRA has become controversial as it restricted the movement of ships and resulted on higher costs by the shipping industry. The problem of over costs and security concerns has been a concern for India as well that strongly pressed for the present reconfiguration of the HRA limits.

Importance of reconfiguration to India : The reconfiguration holds much significance to India as its shipping industry has been facing higher costs since the extension of the eastern limit to 78 degrees east. Besides, the extension of HRA also caused much strain on the coastal security environment as the vessels travelling in the Arabian Sea were forced to travel in the sovereign territorial waters along India’s west coast. These vessels having armed personnel on board sometimes led to security mishaps as happened in the Enrica Lexie, Italian merchant ship, incident that led to killing of two Indian fishermen.

About CGPCS : It is a coalition of states, international organisations, the private sector and civil society that came together to fight piracy together in a coordinated manner. It was established in response to United Nations Security Council Resolution 1851 (2008), later recalled and replaced with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1918 (2010). It works on the basis of Contact Group model that facilitates discussion and coordination of actions among states and organizations to suppress Somali piracy. Till now, more than 60 countries and international organizations, including India, have become part of this forum. The European Union is the Chairperson of the CGPCS for two years-2014 and 2015. The EU will hand over the Chairmanship of the Contact Group to the Republic of Seychelles in 2016.