India for redraw of piracy risk map

India, along with Egypt and Oman have reiterated their demand for a review of the HRA

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With pirate raids in eastern Arabian Sea virtually stopped for the past two years, India has taken up a new battle against global insurance firms to get the piracy risk map redrawn to prevent major  shipping traffic from getting uncomfortably closer to its exclusive economic zone that adversely affect Indian fishermen, The New Indian Express reports

In December 2010, the Lloyd’s Market Association’s  Joint War Committee, a group of underwriters based in  London, had increased the scope of the piracy-infested region till 65 degree east longitude. The increased area was defined in the ‘Best Management Practices (BMP)’ industry document, which is strongly endorsed by  multinational forum, Contact Group on Piracy off the  Coast of Somalia (CGPCS).

On May 1, the CGPCS held its plenary meeting in New York, where India, along with Egypt and Oman, reiterated their demand for review of the High Risk Area, which it  had raised in earlier meetings too.

“This time, we pointed out with a lot of facts and  figures that there had been no incidents reported east  of 65 degree since March 2012. And even that incident  was 450 nautical miles from the Indian coast,” said a  senior Ministry of External Affairs official.

This fight, according to the Indian Government, has  become necessary to protect the interest of the Indian fishermen, whose livelihood gets hit by large cargo ships navigating these waters close to the Indian  coast, apart from ensuring that sailing through the  Arabian Sea does not mean heavy insurance premiums for  the cargo vessel operators.

“The Enrica Lexie incident, which led to the shooting  of two Indian fishermen, was a direct result,”  asserted a senior government official. The Italians had  even argued that the incident took place within the  High Risk Area, to explain the skittishness of the  marines who mistook the fishermen for pirates.

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Source: The New Indian Express, Devirupa Mitra

India: Govt issues norms for armed guards on ships

Merchant ships have liberty to transit territorial waters of any country

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With the return of Italian marines to India, the Union shipping ministry too has got into action. It has asked Indian shipping companies to keep armed guards on the vessels at their own risk. It has, however, also come up with a set of guidelines that ship owners should follow if they decide to put armed guards on board.

Merchant ships have the liberty to transit the territorial waters of any country under the concept of “innocent passage”. However, if a vessel arrives with arms of board the very concept stands challenged. It also raises issues for customs, police and other security agencies. This is one of the reasons why even the International Maritime Organisation has left this decision to the concerned flag states.

The shipping ministry has made it clear that it does not endorse the use of armed guards on merchant ships, but subject to their risk assessment ships can deploy such personnel on board. The Government has advised ship owners to investigate and do a background-check of the ownership, structure, insurance cover, financial position of the private maritime security company.
The Government has also recommended that “the ideal team size would be five persons who should be able to demonstrate responsible management and use of weapons and ammunition at all times when on board.”
The guideline are limited to the deployment of private security agents and do not mention any such assistance from the Central Reserve Police Force or naval forces.


Source: Business Standard

India: Defence Minister Reviews the Progress on Coastal Security

installation of 46 Coastal Static Radars help in identification and monitoring of maritime traffic

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The Defence Minister Shri A K Antony reviewed the progress on various steps taken to enhance the Coastal Security of the country here today. He acknowledged the action taken for installation of 46 Coastal Static Radars (36 in Mainland and 10 in Island territories) which would help in identification and monitoring of maritime traffic. Shri Antony asked the officers to expedite on Phase-II of Coastal Security Initiatives which would translate into a robust and gap free Maritime Domain Awareness.

He stated that a seamless and integrated approach by all the stakeholders- various union Ministries, Coastal State Governments and Coastal communities is essential for a fool proof Coastal security. The Minister emphasized that fishermen in the Coastal States are the eyes and ears for overall Coastal security and they should be made an integral part of all our security planning.

Shri Antony called for urgent and immediate action possible from all stakeholders in matters of coastal security and wanted all concerned to work in a coordinated manner so as to ensure a seamless and robust coastal security mechanism.

The Defence Minister was appreciative of the conjoined exercises undertaken by Coast Guard and directed that the next such conjoined exercise should be with the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat. The meeting was attended by the Chief of Naval Staff Admiral DK Joshi, Defence Secretary Shri Shashi Kant Sharma and other senior officials from Ministry of Defence, Indian Navy and Coast Guard.

Source: PIB, Government of India

India ‘s demand for rollback of norms on piracy risk to be reviewed

A spate of piracy two years ago had prompted the extension of HRA

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The debate over India’s demand for rollback of an international guideline, which has labelled the waters close to its western coast as at a high risk of piracy, will be carried forward at a key meeting of a forum under the United Nations in Seoul this week, the Hindu reports.

Following up on the mid-January meeting in London of a subgroup that discussed India’s reservations about a vast expanse of the Arabian Sea, including the waters off South Karnataka and Kerala right down to Kanyakumari, being depicted as under the spectre of piracy, the meeting of the Working Group-3 of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS), it is reliably learnt, will contemplate the scope for a review of ‘Best Management Practices (BMP) for Protection against Somalia-based Piracy’, an industry document endorsed by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and the CGPCS.

A spate of piracy-related occurrences in the Eastern Arabian Sea over two years ago had prompted the industry to extend the scope of ‘High Risk Area’ (HRA) across the Arabian Sea (areas west of 78 degree east longitude). The Joint War Risk Committee (JWRC) of Lloyd’s, a forum of insurance underwriters, also promulgated the revised contours of HRA, which sent insurance premiums of cargo ships transiting the area through the roof.

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Source: the Hindu

Changing Security Clearance Guidelines for Port Development in India

Changing Security Clearance Guidelines for Port Development in India

The Indian government last week took a major step to streamline the security clearance process for port development projects under the public-private partnership model.

“The Ministry of Shipping would prepare and circulate a list of all Indian and foreign companies that normally bid for port projects to the concerned security agencies,” the government said. “On receipt of the details, security agencies would provide their inputs on such a list to the Ministry of Shipping within 12 weeks.”

The new guidelines came in the wake of widespread concerns that security clearance had been one of the major factors contributing to lengthy delays in award of concession contracts by port authorities.

“Once security clearance is accorded to any company by the Ministry of Shipping, based on the inputs of relevant ministries and other agencies with respect to any port project, such clearance in respect of that company will be valid for three years,” the government advisory said.

According to the guidelines, price bids for port contracts would not be opened until “prequalified bidders” are granted security clearance by the Shipping Ministry.

The government also said the guidelines would apply to minor port projects developed by state governments. “Security clearance is essential for non-major ports, including private ports, set up under the PPP model in the states due to the sensitiveness of the port sector.”

The Shipping Ministry in January 2011 launched a $110 billion maritime plan to expand the country’s port capacity to 3.2 billion tons by 2020, from about 1 billion tons now, to cope with the projected growth in cargo volumes.

Somalia: India Promises Defense Aid to Somalia

The Indian High Commissioner in Nairobi, Sibabrata Tripathi, has expressed the Indian government’s readiness to actively support Somalia’s effort to rebuild its defense forces with a view to enhance overall regional security.

His statement follows an official visit he made to the Somali Ministry of Defense in Mogadishu on Monday (December 17th) where he held talks with the Somali Defense Minister, Abdihakim Haji Mohamud Fiqi, on a wide range of ongoing issues. During the discussion, the visiting High Commissioner praised recent positive developments in Somalia and expressed his country’s readiness to provide military aid to help bolster Somalia’s security forces.

Mr. Fiqi, who noted the recent positive gains against Al-Shabaab with the help of AMISOM and other positive forces, said terrorism was still the biggest threat to Somalia. He highlighted the new government’s ongoing security commitments against terrorism, piracy and other security challenges.

The visit of the Indian High Commissioner was the first visit by an Indian official to Somalia since the collapse of the Somali central government in 1991, but India is, reportedly, the second country after Turkey to promise direct military assistance to the new Government. IGAD has already launched a Grand Stabilization Plan for Somalia whose objectives include providing coordinated support to the new government to establish a strong national defense force.

India issues guidelines to deploy guards on ships to combat piracy

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The Government of India has issued guidelines for deployment of armed guards on board merchant ships by the ship owners to combat piracy, the Hindu Business Line reports.

“The guidelines have been issued for deployment of armed guards on board merchant ships by the ship owners concerned,” G. K. Vasan Minister of Shipping said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha.

The guidelines, among other things, pertain to the criteria for engaging private maritime security companies, armed security guards, team size equipment, command and control of onboard security teams, reporting and record keeping.

“The Government has constituted an inter-ministerial group of officers to deal with any hostage situation arising out of the hijacking, at sea, of merchant vessels with Indian crew on board,” Vasan said.

Source: The Hindu Business Line

Piracy threatening global trade, security: India

India has stressed on the need for adoption of a comprehensive counter – piracy strategy

With piracy posing serious threats to nations, Indiahas stressed on the need for adoption of a comprehensive counter- piracy strategy which focuses on efforts to deter pirates and ensures their prosecution and sentencing.

“Piracy is not only a threat to the freedom of maritime navigation, it is causing destabilising effects on global and regional trade and security.

“The negative humanitarian impact of this threat on seafarers who are the lifeline of maritime shipping can no longer be ignored,” India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri said during a UN Security Council debate on ‘Maintenance of International Peace and Security : Piracy’.

The thematic debate was organised under India’s monthly rotating Presidency of the 15 – nation body.The Council later adopted a Presidential Statement on the issue of piracy, which was initiated by the Indian delegation,and incorporates the concerns of several countries relating to the welfare of seafarers taken as hostages by pirates.

Puri said the threat of piracy now looms over an area of more than 2.8 million square miles, posing the patrolling naval forces with a formidable task.

Despite increased naval presence, pirate attacks off the coast of Somalia have continued, with little change in the level of violence by the pirates against seafarers. As of August 2012, the Somali pirates were holding 11 ships and 188 hostages, including 43 Indian seafarers.

He said given the adverse impact the acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea have on maritime trade, seafarers and security, India attaches “high priority” to combating piracy,including in waters off the coast of Somalia and the Gulf of Guinea.

While naval ships deployed in the Gulf of Aden have been successful in thwarting several piracy attempts, the growing scope and expanding coverage of the problem indicates that the naval operations alone would not be sufficient to treat the menace of piracy, Puri said.

“There is a need to adopt a comprehensive counter - piracy strategy, that includes efforts to deter pirates and the effective prosecution of pirates,” Puri added.Efforts toward prosecution and imprisonment of pirates cannot succeed without the effective involvement of the states in the region.

Capacity building not only of Somalia but also of other States in the region is an essential component of this strategy, he added.

“While we will continue with counter - piracy operations,there is also an urgent need for the international community to address the serious problem of seafarers being taken as hostages and consequent humanitarian problems faced by them and their families.

“It requires active cooperation in the sharing of information, evidence and intelligence in the investigation,prosecution and sentencing of suspected pirates as well as in efforts to achieve an early release of seafarers that are held hostage by pirates,” Puri said.

He said India has been of the firm view that steps to disrupt land-based pirate activities and the associated financial flows are critical in a strong and comprehensive counter- piracy approach.It is essential to investigate and prosecute individuals and networks that provide the leadership, support and financial flows for the sustenance of piracy.

“This would require a broader criminal legislation,covering crimes of extortion, kidnapping, conspiracy, money laundering and financing of pirate activities, as also active collaboration and sharing of information and intelligence between private sector, states and relevant international organisations,” Puri said.

He noted that combating maritime piracy is an important issue that is intrinsically linked with the security situation in Somalia and in the states around the Gulf of Guinea.Puri expressed hope that the new government of Somalia would fully implement counter - piracy measures.

Outlining the challenges that require the immediate attention of the international community in tackling piracy,Puri said there is need for better information sharing and trust building among countries and agencies involved in counter piracy efforts, stronger capacity to prosecute piracy-related cases and the establishment of a framework governing the use of privately contracted armed security personnel on board vessels to ensure appropriate regulation and accountability.

Source: Samaylive

Maritime security high on India s agenda at ASEAN Summit

Focus also on energy, education, disaster management and pandemics

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Maritime security will figure high on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s agenda at the 7th East Asia Summit and in bilateral meetings with US President Barack Obama and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, according to  Daily Bhaskar.

The other important sectors for collaboration at the East Asia Summit would be in energy, education, disaster management and pandemics, including tackling malaria, the official added.

Singh will also discuss regional and international issues during retreat sessions at Summit, that comprises 18 countries, including the ASEAN as well as India, the US and Russia.

Source: Daily Bhaskar

Indian PM Seeks Control On Maritime Piracy

MUMBAI — India’s prime minister on Saturday said piracy was threatening “a large number of Indian seafarers” and warned that the domestic shipping industry’s growth depended on stepped-up maritime security.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that recent attacks in regional waters were a sign of higher risk from pirates, who were previously known to operate off Somalia in the Gulf of Aden.

“Instances of pirate attacks in the Arabian Sea and more recently in the Indian Ocean — much beyond the piracy-infested areas of Gulf of Aden — pose a serious threat to us by putting at risk a large number of Indian seafarers and ships, as also our seaborne trade,” he said.

Singh’s remarks followed the hijacking of an Indian merchant vessel — with 21 Indian sailors on board — near the port of Oman in August by suspected Somali pirates.

“Incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships are a cause of concern to all of us and to the shipping industry in particular,” Singh told a function at the state-run Shipping Corp. of India.

“Any industry can thrive only in an atmosphere of safety and security,” Singh said in Mumbai, India’s financial hub.

Piracy for ransom is an organised and lucrative operation in Somalia that has expanded into a vast area off the coast. In 2010 a record 1,181 seafarers were kidnapped by pirates, according to marine safety experts.

“We should also ensure adequate Indian control over our maritime activity, for reasons of maritime security,” Singh stressed.

More than 100 pirates have been caught and are awaiting trial in India following a series of skirmishes with the navy near the country’s Lakshadweep islands this year.

India, which in 2008 joined an international naval force in the pirate-infested waters, is seen in the forefront of the exercise which many experts warn has made it a prime target of the maritime brigands.