The International Bargaining Forum (IBF) has agreed to add an extended zone of risk to the existing high risk piracy area in order to improve the protection of seafarers working in the ever-widening areas in which pirates operate.
The new agreement renews the existing conditions in the high risk area first agreed by the IBF in 2008 and since amended (Gulf of Aden covered in 2008, increased to 400 nm off Eastern Somali seaboard in 2009) – a 100 per cent wage increase, doubled compensation in case of injury or death and the right to sign off and be repatriated if a vessel does not follow the internationally recognised transit corridors through the Gulf of Aden – and recognises the existence of pirate danger in a huge additional swathe of ocean, now known as the extended risk zone. Within this area increased protective measures that surpass those of the existing Best Management Practice (BMP: cross industry guidance on piracy prevention, see www.marisec.org/piracy-gulf-of-aden-indian-ocean-industry-best-management-practice) must be adopted based on vessel size, type, speed and freeboard. These can include the provision of personnel or systems to prevent or combat an attack. The enhanced pay and compensation also applies in this new extended risk zone area on any day in which a ship is attacked.
ITF seafarers’ section chairman Dave Heindel commented: “The first IBF agreement on piracy risk came in 2008 and was a major breakthrough, but the problem of piracy has worsened and expanded since then, and so we keep having to revisit it.
“Crucially, this latest phase commits operators to significantly beefing up their security measures in this new extended risk zone. This was the big concern that seafarers tasked us with taking to the IBF, and we’re gratified that their worries have been addressed. What this means onboard may be armed guards – there’s no doubt that a lot of seafarers now would go for that option, although there are cases and routes where they may not be appropriate – or it may mean new preventative/defensive technologies.”
He concluded: “It’s good to see everyone in the IBF once again condemning piracy and calling for its excision by governmental action, but we are still perilously close to a situation where we have to consider whether seafarers should be in this ocean at all.”