India and Seychelles work together to combat piracy in Indian Ocean

In a move to combat piracy in the Indian Ocean and to create a safer maritime environment, both India and Seychelles have announced a new initiative to commit resources to bring security to the Western Indian Ocean.
This follows the recent 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. This was 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, which aims 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 of 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.”

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