The coordination of security operations in the Indian Ocean will be improving from January 2016 in a bid to eradicate piracy in the area, leading maritime security company MAST has said today.
In a move towards a safer maritime environment, both India and Seychelles have announced they have assigned resources to help securitise the Western Indian Ocean.
This development follows the significant changes to internationally recognised security policy in the Indian Ocean at the close of 2015. In December, the maritime community scaled down the size of the Best Management Practice (BMP 4) High Risk Area (HRA) in the western Indian Ocean, followed closely by the Joint War Committee (JWC) at Lloyd's of London reducing the size of the corresponding insurance HRA.
The Seychelles and India have been steadily increasing their maritime and security cooperation in what was traditionally hotspot for piracy and illegal maritime activity. This move will be strengthened by the Seychelles taking over the chairmanship of the Contact Group on Piracy off the coast of Somalia (CGPCS) from the European Union this month.
The CGPCS will be holding its first meeting in Mumbai on 31 January, following a strategy meeting in New Delhi on 28-29 January, in an aim to discuss the nature of The Seychelles' future engagements.
The Seychelles will also be teaming up with India to host a regional military exercise coordinated by the U.S. Navy later this month. The exercise, named Cutlass Express 2016, will commence on 30 January until 6 February and will include forces from Comoros, Kenya, Mauritius, Madagascar, Mozambique and Tanzania. The military exercise will include scenarios which include combating piracy, trafficking and illegal fishing.
Up until 2015 the Seychelles required ships which were passing through the archipelago to have armed guards on board, but this requirement was removed as there has not been a piracy attack close to the Seychelles since 2013.
Gerry Northwood COO of MAST and former Royal Navy counter-piracy commander commented:
“It is encouraging to see that the Seychelles is continuing to play a significant role in helping the international community counter criminal activity in the Indian Ocean. Along with the Seychelles recent assumption of the Presidency of the UN Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS), this cooperation with India continues the process of making the responsibility for combating Somali piracy a regional one. It is also heartening to see that Exercise Cutlass Express 2016 will tackle a range of maritime crime types, thus recognising the interconnected nature of crime and the fact that the solution lies with engagement and commitment from all players including governments, law enforcement, the shipping industry and its associates.
“Pirate attacks by armed Somalis once plagued the vast Indian Ocean off East Africa but armed guards on board ships and international naval patrols have helped supress piracy in the Somali Basin. However, Somalia itself remains politically fragile and now is not be the time to relax security measures which have proved so successful. We believe it is vitally important that all shipping transiting the Indian Ocean conduct a thorough risk assessment before doing so.”
MAST is a leading global security provider with the expertise and capability to provide comprehensive security advice, including the delivery of intelligence information, physical security solutions and technology. MAST is without doubt one of the pioneers in the maritime security industry, having been at the heart of development of the legal and operational standards that now allow clients to engage security services in the marine sector with confidence. With offices in the UK, USA, Malta, Oman, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, Singapore and China, the company has the resources and the reach to provide clients with a complete solution. For more information please visit our website: www.mast-security.com
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