Mar 262011

Pirated vessels like the FV JIH CHUN TSAI 68, pictured here, are often used as motherships to launch attacks on victims

Following in-depth discussion amongst the parties of the International Bargaining Forum, a new agreement has been reached for vessels and seafarers trading in the pirated waters of the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea and North Indian Ocean, which will be implemented from 1 April 2011, allowing ship operators time to make any necessary preparations to follow the new agreement.

The IBF says that it “… also wishes to take this opportunity to call upon international governments to enforce the right of safe, free and unhindered passage, so that world trade may continue without causing any threat to the lives of the seafarers sailing aboard merchant vessels in the course of their normal duties”.

Giles Heimann, Secretary General of IMEC, says “the issue of piracy is one of paramount importance not only to the maritime industry, but also to the supply of goods worldwide, whilst the discussion with our colleagues in the ITF has been long and detailed, I am confident that we have reached a pragmatic agreement. Yet again, once more, it has been clear that the representative organisations of both the ship-owners and seafarers are united in their condemnation of the terrible physical and mental effects of piracy on seafarers and the impact that this is having also on free passage of ships. The time for world governments to act is now. If we are to see an end to this situation, it will only be through positive action taken on an international basis to put an end to this blight on free trade, to ensure the safety of our seafarers and the vessels upon which they serve.”

The text of the agreement follows.

Given continuing pirate attacks on merchant ships despite the presence of a number of international navies, the Joint Negotiating Group (JNG) and the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) agreed in London, United Kingdom to extend the geographical coverage of the IBF High Risk Area and terms and conditions applying in said area as follows:

1. With effect from 0001Z on 1st April 2011 the Extended Risk Zone is as follows:

“The western border of the Zone runs from the coastline at the border of Djibouti and Somalia to position 11 48 N, 45 E; from 12 00 N, 45 E to Mayyun Island in the Bab El Mandeb Straits.
The eastern border is set at 78 E, the southern border is set at 10 S and the Northern Border set at 26 N.”

The IBF Extended Risk Zone Map is attached in Annex.

2. The IBF constituents have agreed that during a vessel’s transit of the Extended Risk Zone protection of seafarers through the provision of increased security measures should be adopted. Such measures must be above the latest Best Management Practice level and may include the provision of personnel or systems which appropriately reduce the vulnerability of a vessel. The sufficiency of such extra security measures should be determined depending on vessel type, size, freeboard during transit and speed, with consulting and seeking advice of respective ITF union(s) where necessary.

3. The IBF constituents confirm that the adoption of Best Management Practice is required of all vessels operating under IBF agreements as a minimum standard of protection.

4. Within the Extended Risk Zone the IBF constituents agree to retain the previously designated IBF High Risk Area as it is recognised that the pirate attacks emanate mainly from bases in this region. The Western Border of this High Risk Area runs from the coastline at the border of Djibouti and Somalia to position 11 48 N, 45 E; from 12 00 N, 45 E to Mayyun Island in the Bab El Mandeb Straits. The Eastern Border runs from Rhiy di-Irisal on Suqutra Island to position 14 18 N, 53 E; from 14 30 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 Kenian border in the South.

5. During the period of transit of the area designated as the IBF High Risk Area seafarers shall be entitled to compensation amounting to 100% of the basic wage and a doubled compensation payable in case of death and disability. This entitlement should apply on each day of the vessel’s stay in the High Risk Area.

6. In the case of vessels that will transit the IBF High Risk Area outside of the east bound and west bound lanes created under the International Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC), seafarers have the right not to proceed with the passage.  In such an event, the seafarer concerned shall be repatriated at the company’s cost with benefits accrued until date of return to the port of engagement. This entitlement shall only apply in respect of vessels which are bound to enter the IBF High Risk Area, and will not apply in case of crossing the rest of the Extended Risk Zone.

7. Vessels may deviate from the International Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC) lanes without affecting the terms and conditions for the seafarers onboard for collision avoidance purposes only, as long as they are returned to the original lanes as soon as it is safe and practicable to do so.

8. During the period of transit of the IBF Extended Risk Zone, outside the area which is designated as High Risk Area, each seafarer shall be entitled to a bonus equal to 100% of the basic wage and a doubled compensation in case of injury or death – on any day during which the vessel he serving on is attacked. The proof of these entitlements shall be subject to a confirmed entry into the ship’s log book and a report of attack being lodged with recognised international reporting authorities, such as UK MTO. The maximum period when these entitlements may apply shall not exceed the number of days of the vessel’s transit of the IBF Extended Risk Zone outside the area designated as High Risk Area. For the purpose of this article an attack means any unauthorised and obvious action taken by a third party in a wilful attempt to board or damage the vessel or to harm the crew which leads to the activation of the relevant vessel contingency plans including the alerting of the whole crew.

9. The IBF constituents believe that, in order to assist the military efforts to counter piracy in this region, all vessels that are subject to a confirmed attack should report to international navies present in the area or other relevant authority, to assist in the deployment of naval resources to appropriate areas, where piracy attacks are occurring.

10. Within all of the IBF Extended Risk Zone, including the High Risk Area, the above identified entitlements to double basic pay and double compensation for injury or death will not apply while vessels are alongside a berth, at anchor in secure anchorages off ports or attached to SBM facilities – with exception of Somali waters and ports. It is understood that vessels will have to transit the high risk area in order to proceed to certain ports and as such the bonuses mentioned in above should cease when a vessel is either all secure alongside, brought up to her anchor or fully coupled to a SBM in any port of the IBF Extended Risk Zone, excluding Somalia. Likewise when sailing, the applicability of bonuses etc. should commence when the vessel is “all gone”, i.e. the last line is let go from a berth, when the anchor is aweigh or a vessel has de-coupled from a SBM.

11. This Revision of the IBF High Risk Area remains in force from 0001Z on 1st April until any further revision or amendment is adopted by the constituents of the International Bargaining Forum.


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