Piracy in the Strait of Hormuz

Piracy has taken place in a maritime area bounded by the Suez and the Strait of Hormuz. Approximately 35 percent of all crude oil shipped by sea and one-third of all liquefied natural gas pass through the strait.[1]

High Risk Areas (HRA)

High Risk Areas for piracy (HRA) have been declared in different parts of the world to reflect precautions to be taken when ships transit them.[2] These include the following:

Contact Group of Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS)

As per the Contact group of Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS), the HRA (updated on 8 October 2015) is an area bounded by the following:[3] In the Red Sea: northern limit: Latitude 15°N, In the Gulf of Oman: northern limit: Latitude 22°N Eastern limit: Longitude 065°E Southern limit: Latitude 5°S

Joint War Committee (JWC)

As per the JWC, as of 12 June 2013, in the Indian Ocean, the waters enclosed by: on the North West by the Red Sea, south of Latitude 15° N; on the west of the Gulf of Oman by Longitude 58° E; on the east, Longitude 78° E; and on the south, Latitude 12° S excepting coastal waters of adjoining territories up to 12 nautical miles offshore unless otherwise provided constitute Hull War, Piracy, Terrorism and Related Perils Listed Area.[4]

International Transport Workers Federation (ITF)

The ITF has promulgated ITF 'Warlike', HRA and Extended Risk Zone.[5]

International Bargaining Forum (IBF)

The IBF is a forum based in London consisting of two parties - IMEC and ITF Seafarers trust.[6] IMEC, a London based maritime employers committee consisting primarily of ship managers and manning agents as members, and the London based ITF (as a representative of worldwide seafarer employee unions) together decide the limits of areas to be designated as war like or extended risk.[7] This has two commercial repercussions. For ship owners, it results in added insurance (H&M and P&I) charged from ships for their transit. For seafarers, it results in additional wages drawn for the duration of their transit in exchange for the higher risk to their lives.[8]

The IBF has designated regions off Africa and Asia under 3 categories, each of which has different commercial implications:

  • IBF 'Warlike Operations Area' (off Yemen, in red Sea), IBF HRA and IBF 'Extended Risk Zones'.
  • IBF HRA (High risk area) - In West Africa (Gulf of Guinea)
  • IBF Extended Risk Zone - off Gulf of Aden and Somalia, upto the center of the Indian Ocean

The above have resulted in the proliferation of floating armouries[9] - ships owned by private military contractors that allows their armed security guards (usually ex defence personnel from UK, France, EU and United States) to be hired by ship owners for a daily hire rate.[10] The austerity moves in western nations since 1990 led to an increase in such private outfits as defence personnel were laid off.[11] The presence of floating armouries in the Indian Ocean has resulted in widespread criticism from neighbouring countries, especially India and Pakistan due to the obvious security concerns and incidents like the Enrica Lexie case.[12][13] In 2014, the government of Egypt also protested at the IMO that the classifying of their waters as WOA has resulted in hurting their maritime ports.[14][15][16]

Changes from March 2018

Note: Due to continuous changes, this section may not be up to date

From 1 March 2018, the IBF list of designated risk areas was revised as follows:

  • The Warlike Operations Area (WOA) off the north coast of Somalia (former definition 1) was downgraded to a High Risk Area (HRA) and absorbed into definition 2.[17]
  • The Yemeni territorial waters (12 NM from mainland) have been upgraded from Extended Risk Zone (ERZ) in the Red Sea and HRA in the Gulf of Aden to WOA. This is the new designation 1 and excludes the Maritime Security Transit Corridor (MSTC).[18]
  • The previous upper limit of the ERZ in the Red Sea has been brought south to the Yemen/Saudi Arabia border from the previous coordinates of 20 N.[19]

Summary

A table summarising the risk areas related to piracy is tabulated below.

AreaAgencyNorthern LimitEastern LimitSouthern LimitWestern LimitRemarks
HRAShipping Industry, Contact Group of Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS)Suez and Strait of Hormuz65°E[20]10°SEastern Coast of Somalia and other littoralsPromulgated in August 2011, Revised in October 2015
War Risk Area (WRA)Joint War Committee, LondonRed Sea south of 15°N78°E12°SWest of Gulf of Oman by 58°EPromulgated in June 2013 and reviewed in June 2015.[21] Does not include territorial waters of Coastal States unless otherwise mentioned
Warlike Operations AreaInternational Transport Workers Federation (ITF)/ International Bargaining Forum (IBF)12 n.m. off Somali North Coast---Promulgation: 1 July 2014[22]
HRAInternational Transport Workers Federation (ITF)/ International Bargaining Forum (IBF)-Rhiy di-Irisal on Suqutra Island to 14 18°N, 53°E to the coastline at the border between Yemen and Oman, together with a 400-mile zone off the eastern coast of Somalia i.e. from Suqutra Island down to the Kenyan border in the South-Coastline at the border of Djibouti and Somalia to 11 48 ° N, 45°E; from 12° N, 45°E to Mayyun Island(Bab-al-Mandap Straits)Promulgation: ITF (1 April 2011)/ IBF (25 Mar 2011). Excludes Internationally Recognised Transit Corridor (IRTC). Reviewed 1 July 2014[22]
Extended Risk AreaInternational Transport Workers Federation (ITF); International Bargaining Forum (IBF)26°N78°E10°SCoastline at the border of Djibouti and Somalia to 11 48 ° N, 45°E; from 12° N, 45°E to Mayyun Island(Bab-al-Mandap Straits)Promulgation: ITF (1 April 2011)/ IBF (25 Mar 2011). Includes IRTC

Controversy

With the decline of the number of successful and attempted piracy incidents since 2012, the extent and scope of the HRA has increasingly become controversial. This notably concerns whether the territorial waters and EEZ’ of the Western Indian Ocean littorals should be considered part of the HRA.[23]

Position of Coastal States

Littoral states want the scope of the HRA reviewed on account of economic considerations as well as the proliferation of arms and ammunition in the HRA.[23]

Position of Shipping Industry

The shipping industry assessment is that it is yet early to revise that scope of the HRA as revising the HRA could lead to 'loss of awareness' in the industry and possible 'disengagement' of naval actors.[23]

Developments

2012

Nov 2012

At the 12th CGPCS held on 25 Jul 2012, CGPCS 'noted' the continued reduction in the reach and extent of piracy in the East Arabian Sea, especially east of 70 degrees East, and asked Working Group (WG) 3 to consider a review of the HRA through discussions with industry, the drafters of BMP.[24]

Nov 2012

At the 13th CGPCS held on 11 Dec 2012, CGPCS 'noted' the proposed meeting of a sub-group of WG 3 on 15 January 2013 in London which will include interested Member States and representatives of the insurance and maritime industry to further discuss the issue of the review of existing boundaries of the HRA on an objective and transparent basis taking into account actual incidents of piracy.[25]

2013

January 2013

At the WG3 ad hoc meeting on HRA on 15 January 2013 at London, Egypt, India, and Oman submitted papers replying to inquiries of the industry and requesting review of the scope of the HRA.[26]

May 2013

At the 14th CGPCS held on 1 May 2013, it was decided that WG3 will hold another ad hoc meeting on the HRA in the second half 2013 to review the threat assessment by naval forces, any changes in the position of stakeholders, and the possibility of reducing the scope of the HRA.[26]

November 2013

At the 15th CGPCS Plenary session, the Chair of Working Group 3 (WG3) noted the enduring concern of countries over the scope of the HRA and submitted that the industry desired more time for internal deliberation after the first meeting of a SHADE working group to conduct a threat analysis in December 2013. Several delegations expressed the importance of implementing the convening of an ad hoc meeting to review the scope of HRA before the end of 2013 and expressed regret that the meeting has not been convened. Those delegations expressed their view that the 'extended HRA as outlined in BMPs 3 and 4 does not reflect the reality regarding piracy activity in the Red Sea and some parts of the Indian Ocean'.[27]

2014

May 2014

At the 16th CGPCS plenary, on 14 May 2014, it was noted that 'the enduring concern of some countries on the scope of the HRA' and 'the fact that the ad hoc meeting to discuss this issue, as agreed to in previous Plenaries, is yet to be held' and it was agreed to convene an ad hoc meeting on the HRA issue just before the 17th Plenary.[27]

October 2014

A special, ad hoc meeting on the scope of the HRA was convened on 26 October 2014, by the (CGPCS), prior to the 17th Plenary. The meeting agreed that a future meeting on the same subject should be convened by the Chair of the CGPCS by end of Mar 15 to facilitate a recommendation on the review of the scope of the HRA.[28]

2015

March 2015

On 13 March 2015 an extraordinary meeting of the CGPCS was held to address the issue of the revision of the HRA. several countries called on the industry to review and redraw the High Risk Area from 78° East to 65° East and exclude the Red Sea, the Gulf of Oman and the Exclusive Economic Zone of Pakistan from the HRA.[29] It was agreed to initiate a process to review the HRA based on a threat assessment by the military followed by a risk assessment by the shipping industry.[23]

On 17 March 2015, at a session of the Subcommittee on Security and Defense of the European Parliament, Dr Marcus Houben, stated that the CGPCS was 'confident that a solution to this issue will be found within the context of the CGPCS in the near future'.[30]

October 2015

On 8 October 2015, the European Union Chair of the Contact Group of Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS) announced a revision of the limits of High Risk Area (HRA). The new limit was placed at 65°E Longitude.[20]

List of countries seeking review of HRA

  1. Bangladesh
  2. Djibouti
  3. Egypt
  4. India
  5. Indonesia
  6. Mauritius
  7. Oman
  8. Pakistan
  9. Qatar
  10. Russian Federation
  11. Saudi Arabia
  12. Seychelles
  13. South Africa
  14. United Arab Emirates[31]

See also

References

  1. Wiese Bockmann, Michelle (27 February 2012). "Pirates Threaten Ship in Closest Ever Incident to Hormuz". Bloomberg News. Retrieved 27 May 2015.
  2. "ITF war like and high risk areas". Itfseafarers.org. ITF seafarers. Retrieved 5 March 2018.
  3. "Somali Pirate Activity The High Risk Area" (PDF). Ics-shipping.org. Retrieved 17 January 2016.
  4. "Bulletins/Circulars". Lloyd's Market Association. Retrieved 28 March 2015.
  5. "ITF Warlike and High Risk Areas". ITF Seafarers. Retrieved 12 April 2015.
  6. "About the IBF". www.imec.org.uk. IMEC. Retrieved 12 April 2019.
  7. "Maritiem piracy and security - list of articles". www.ukpandi.com. UK P&I. Retrieved 12 April 2019.
  8. "IBF war like operations". Imec.org.uk. IMEC. Retrieved 5 March 2018.
  9. Cook, Peter. "Comprehensive report - survey of floating armouries" (PDF). www.piracylegalforum.org/. PLF. Retrieved 12 April 2019.
  10. Chapter 8 - Stockpiles at sea. Floating armouries in Indian Ocean (PDF). Retrieved 12 April 2019.
  11. "Floating armouries in Indian ocean" (PDF). www.psm.du.edu. PSM University. Retrieved 12 April 2019.
  12. Floating armouries - implications and risks (PDF). Omega foundation. Retrieved 12 April 2019.
  13. "Submission to the IMO from India - 19 August 2014 - Risks due to floating armouries in the Indian ocean" (PDF). IMO official website. IMO and the Government of India. Retrieved 12 April 2019.
  14. "Proceedings of MEPC committee - Response from Egypt to INF circular on floating armouries". IMO official website. International Maritime Organisation. Retrieved 12 April 2019.
  15. "Floating armouries can lead to 26/11-type attack: Navy chief". www.defence.pk. Pakistan Defence. Retrieved 12 April 2019.
  16. Shah, Riddhi. "Piracy and Floating Armouries in the Indian" (PDF). IPCS National maritime foundation. Retrieved 12 April 2019.
  17. "IBF LIST of designated risk areas, with applicable benefits (as of 1 March 2018)" (PDF). Itfseafarers.org. ITF. Retrieved 5 March 2018.
  18. "IBF High Risk and Extended Risk Areas in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean". Londonpandi.com. London P&I Club. Retrieved 5 March 2018.
  19. "Annex 1 to ITF Circular No 068/S.17/D.20/SS.7/2012" (PDF). Ltfja.lv. ITF. Retrieved 5 March 2018.
  20. "Revision of Piracy High Risk Area (HRA)". Ministry of Defence. Press Information Bureau Government of India. 9 October 2015. Retrieved 17 January 2016.
  21. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-04-02. Retrieved 2015-03-29.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  22. "IBF LIST : of designated risk areas, with applicable benefits (as of 1 March 2018)" (PDF). Itfseafarers.org. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  23. "Progress in HRA controversy: CGPCS participants agree on process". Lessons from Piracy. Retrieved 15 March 2015.
  24. "Twelfth Plenary Session of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia". US Department of State. Retrieved 29 March 2015.
  25. "Thirteenth Plenary Session of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia". US Department of State. Retrieved 29 March 2015.
  26. "14th CGPCS Plenary Communique". Lessons from Piracy. Retrieved 29 March 2015.
  27. "CGPCS Communiques [public]". Lessons from Piracy. Retrieved 28 March 2015.
  28. "Communique of the 17th plenary session of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia". Lessons from Piracy. Retrieved 15 March 2015.
  29. "Summary of Meeting". Lessons from Piracy. Retrieved 28 March 2015.
  30. "CGPCS discussed in the European Parliament". Lessons from Piracy. Retrieved 28 March 2015.
  31. "Chair Publishes Summary of HRA Meeting". Lessons from Piracy. Retrieved 28 March 2015.
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