India welcomes revision of piracy high risk area

New Delhi, Oct 9 (IANS) India on Friday welcomed the decision of the global shipping and oil industry to revise the Piracy High Risk Area (HRA) in the Indian Ocean and shift its eastern boundary away from India’s western coastline.

In a statement here, the ministry of external affairs said the decision of the organisations representing the global shipping and oil industry to revise the HRA and shift its eastern boundary away from the western coastline of India to 65 degree East longitude with effect from December 1, 2015 reflects the changed ground realities.

It said the extensive counter-piracy operations, including by Indian naval forces, played a critical role in ensuring security in our maritime zones. “As a result, no piracy attacks have taken place east of 65 degree East longitude for more than three years now,” it said.

India had been seeking revision of the HRA back to 65 degree East longitude as continuation of the extended HRA had both economic and security implications. Payment of Additional War Risk Premium (AWRP) over the extended HRA added to the cost of transportation.

The shipping traffic had moved closer to the Indian coast and the heightened alert had resulted in unfortunate incidents of firing on Indian fishing boats mistaken as pirate skiffs.

India had taken up this matter at the meetings of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) as well as bilaterally with the members of the CGPCS.

Revision of the HRA will ensure an optimal utilisation of international resources to combat maritime piracy by focusing international efforts on the actual areas of high-risk, it said.

Containment of maritime piracy off the coast of Somalia is an example of successful international collaboration in the area of maritime security.

“As a founding member of the CGPCS, India has actively contributed to the international efforts to combat maritime piracy. We remain committed to continuing our support in this regard,” the MEA statement said.

The European Union too welcomed the reduction of the piracy high risk area.

In a statement, the EU said the reduction of the Piracy HRA would reflect the progress made in fighting piracy off the coast of Somalia. “This is an outcome of an industry-led review of the High Risk Area that was conducted at the request of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia,” it said.

The dispute over the boundaries of the HRA has been the longest and most divisive issue stakeholders of the Contact Group have faced since its inception in 2009. The way the piracy High Risk Area dispute has been handled and now concluded is a testimony to the Contact Group model of multi-stakeholder governance, it said.

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