The security situation in the Indian Ocean could very quickly change for the worse, says leading maritime security company MAST.
Gerry Northwood OBE, COO of MAST, said: 'For commercial shipping, the Indian Ocean is arguably the safest ocean on the planet. Put simply, the current security framework is working, but it remains extremely fragile and dependent on international navies maintaining a presence in the Indian Ocean, Best Management Practice 4 (BMP4) being diligently applied and for at least the majority of vessels to be protected by armed guards'.
'Yet we continue to see speculative approaches by skiffs equipped with assault rifles and ladders. A MAST team recently fired warning shots at a skiff to prevent a boarding attempt in the southern Red Sea. Periodically commercial vessels are reporting similar approaches, which demonstrate that the pirate threat remains latent.'
He added: 'There are other warning signs indicating the security situation could deteriorate.'
Alan Cole, an official at the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime, recently expressed concern that illegal fishing in the Indian Ocean and Horn of Africa might be a catalyst for a return to piracy. His observations were reinforced by the BBC Africa correspondent Andrew Harding, whose interviews of Somalis in Puntland revealed a potentially dangerous sense of resentment that not enough is being done by the international community to prevent illegal fishing and that the risk to reward balance might once again be shifting in favour of piracy.