© Crown copyright 2015
This publication is licensed under the terms of the Open Government Licence v3.0 except where otherwise stated. To view this licence, visit nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/open-government-licence/version/3 or write to the Information Policy Team, The National Archives, Kew, London TW9 4DU, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where we have identified any third party copyright information you will need to obtain permission from the copyright holders concerned.
This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/2010-to-2015-government-policy-piracy-off-the-coast-of-somalia/2010-to-2015-government-policy-piracy-off-the-coast-of-somalia
This is a copy of a document that stated a policy of the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government. The previous URL of this page was https://www.gov.uk/government/policies/preventing-and-reducing-piracy-off-the-coast-of-somalia. Current policies can be found at the GOV.UK policies list.
Since 2008 there has been a high number of attacks by pirates off the coast of Somalia on ships transiting the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean. Armed gangs have been hijacking vessels and demanding ransoms for the release of both vessels and crew. These attacks affect the peace and security of the region.
In response, the UK is playing a lead role in international operations aimed at stopping the pirates, and providing humanitarian and development assistance to Somalia.
In order to ensure pirates (and the proceeds from piracy) are stopped, and that the shipping and travel industry can conduct its business as safely as possible, the UK is:
- supporting counter-piracy missions - NATO’s Operation Ocean Shield, the EU’s NAVFOR Operation ATALANTA and the Combined Task Force 151 in the Horn of Africa region, and supports the UK Maritime Trade Operation (run by the Royal Navy and based in the British Embassy in Dubai) - and provide humanitarian and development assistance to Somalia to counteract the root causes of piracy
- supporting countries in the region to let seized pirates be prosecuted regionally - the UK has agreements in place with the Seychelles, Mauritius and Tanzania
- supporting Somalia in reducing poverty and to enhance stabilisation, peace building and reconciliation at national, regional and local levels. This supports our counter-piracy and counter-terrorism objectives by helping, over the longer term, to bring down the causes of piracy and terrorism and to prevent their continuation. The Department for International Development’s (DFID’s) 4-year £250 million Somalia programme will play a crucial role in achieving this outcome
- supporting the shipping industry advice on self-protection measures on how to avoid, deter and delay pirate attacks, and through government guidelines on the use of armed guards
- providing advice to travellers in the region so you ‘know before you go’ and can be aware of any risks in the area
- supporting the recognition of Somalia’s Exclusive Economic Zone, which will help protect its natural maritime resources up to 200 nautical miles from its coastal baselines
- leading efforts to undermine the piracy business model, including through the opening of a Regional Anti-Piracy Prosecution and Intelligence Co-ordination Centre (RAPPICC) in the Seychelles. The RAPPICC’s remit is to target the leaders, financiers and enablers of piracy by building evidence packages for use in their prosecutions
- the Piracy Ransoms Task Force was established by David Cameron in February 2012 for threatened countries to work together to reduce the threat of piracy and ransom payments
The UK continues to work with the international community to provide humanitarian and development assistance. This helps to tackle the underlying causes of piracy: long term instability and lack of development in the Somali region.
The UK is working with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the International Maritime Organization to develop sustainable livelihoods in coastal communities, which complements DFID’s programme of building long-term and sustainable jobs and economic opportunities in Somalia.
One example of such work is the Sustainable Employment and Economic Development Programme, a joint project with UNDP Somalia. The programme is aimed at working to improve the livelihoods of various stakeholders in the fisheries sector in Puntland. It will result in improved regulation and development through public-private partnerships, with the aim to create 20,000 long-term jobs.
The UK has lead responsibility in the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia for working group one, whose focus is on regional capacity development and military engagement.
Naval operations to counter piracy and armed robbery off the coast of Somalia operate under the authority of the UN Security Council. Since 2008, the Security Council has passed a number of resolutions authorising military operations, the most recent of which is the UN Security Council Resolution 2077 (2012).
The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) defines the act of piracy and provides the basis for the prosecution of piracy and maritime crime offences.
Appendix 1: Piracy Ransoms Task Force
This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.
The task force brings together policy makers from 14 nations of the world’s largest Flag States (countries where vessels are registered), nations whose seafarers are most commonly at risk, and those countries at the forefront of the military response to piracy.
The task force was established in February 2012 after the London Conference on Somalia in February 2012. The task force made four recommendations in its final report, published in December 2012, to the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia in New York:
- develop a new strategic partnership between Flag States, the private sector and law enforcement agencies that brings together those tackling piracy and those subjected to it in a united effort to break the piracy business model
- develop a more co-ordinated approach to information-sharing to provide evidence to pursue and prosecute all involved in piracy
- strengthen co-ordination between Flag States, the private sector and military responders to prepare for potential hostage situations
- encourage implementation of anti-piracy measures
Appendix 2: the UK’s contribution to international efforts to prevent piracy at sea
This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.
Operation Ocean Shield
The UK has contributed ships to NATO’s Operation Ocean Shield, which combats piracy off the Horn of Africa. Ocean Shield continues 2 previous counter-piracy missions conducted by NATO. It was approved by the North Atlantic Council in 2009 and has been extended until the end of 2014.
Ocean Shield mainly consists of at-sea operations. For example, NATO vessels conduct helicopter surveillance missions to trace and identify ships in the area, and help prevent and disrupt hijackings and suppress armed robbery.
NATO’s role is to provide naval escorts and piracy deterrence, while working with other counter-piracy operations in the area to improve efforts and understand and respond to evolving pirate trends and tactics.
EU NAVFOR - Operation ATALANTA
EU Naval Force Somalia - Operation ATALANTA -(EU NAVFOR) contributes to improving maritime security off the coast of Somalia and in the Indian Ocean. It was launched by the Council of the EU in 2008 and has had its mandate extended until December 2014.
The UK supports EU NAVFOR - Operation ATALANTA by providing the Operational Commander for the mission and the Operational Headquarters at Northwood, which it will do until the end of December 2014 when the current mandate is due to expire.
Operation ATALANTA’s mandate is to:
- protect African Union Mission in Somalia shipping and World Food Programme vessels delivering food aid to displaced persons in Somalia
- deter, prevent and repress acts of piracy and armed robbery off the Somali coast
- protect vulnerable shipping off the Somali coast on an individual basis
- monitor fishing activities off the coast of Somalia
Combined Task Force (CTF) 151
The Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) conducts a range of maritime security operations in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden. Combined Task Force (CTF) 151 is the task force set up to run counter-piracy operations in the CMF. Their mission is actively to deter, disrupt and suppress piracy in order to protect global maritime security and secure freedom of navigation for the benefit of all nations. The UK provides a ship and military patrol reconnaissance aircraft to CTF 151.
The CMF is made up of 27 international partners. Other nations not part of the coalition forces above also conduct counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean. They include China, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Russia and others.
These independent navies frequently convoy merchant shipping through the Internationally Recognised Transit Corridor and the government and Royal Navy work closely with them to ensure as much merchant shipping is protected as possible.
UK Maritime Trade Operation (UKMTO)
Based in the British Embassy in Dubai, the Royal Navy runs a 24-hour reporting centre to enable fast communication between merchant shipping and naval forces in the event of an attack or suspicious activity.
Best management practice recommends all shipping in the area to report into UKMTO to receive latest information. The UKMTO receives over 1,000 emails per day as well as telephone calls from mariners in the region. They also visit ships in the nearby ports of Jebel Ali and Fujairah to brief masters and ensure shipping has as much up-to-date information as possible.
Shared awareness and deconfliction
At any given time there can be around 24 warships conducting counter-piracy operations. To ensure the task forces work as effectively as possible together, the international naval forces in the region co-ordinate their operations through the shared awareness and deconfliction mechanism known as SHADE.
The UK currently seconds 8 staff to the civilian CSDP mission EUCAP NESTOR. NESTOR is the EU’S lead regional maritime capacity building mission. NESTOR’s current mandate runs for 2 years from July 2012. The mission’s objective to assist the development in the Horn of Africa and the Western Indian Ocean States of a self-sustainable capacity for continued enhancement of their maritime security including counter-piracy, and maritime governance.
Shipping industry: self-protection and armed guards
The government works closely with industry to encourage adherence to the recommendations found in industry’s best management practices. These include a range of self-protection measures that should be implemented by shipping companies transiting the High Risk Area.
Following the Prime Minister’s announcement in October 2011 that armed guards would be allowed on UK ships, we have established fair and effective guidance for the use of armed guards onboard UK flagged vessels. To date, no ship with armed guards has been successfully hijacked.
Appendix 3: advice and contacts for travellers
This was a supporting detail page of the main policy document.
Advice to travellers in the Indian Ocean area
We advise against all but essential travel by yacht and leisure craft on the high seas (more than 12 nautical miles from shore) in the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea and part of the Indian Ocean bounded by the following latitude and longitude: 15°N in the Red Sea, 23°N in the Arabian Sea, 78°E and 10°S in the Indian Ocean.
We urge all merchant shipping, including cruise ships, to comply with agreed shipping industry best practice on self-defence measures, including on speed, routing and maintaining adequate lookout.
We urge all mariners to register with the Maritime Security Centre (Horn of Africa) for up to date advice and guidance on passage round the Horn of Africa. They should also report regularly to the UK Maritime Trade Organisation (UKMTO), giving location, course and speed, and plan their routing carefully so as to avoid placing themselves in unnecessary danger.
Telephone: +971 50 552 3215)
SeaSafe is a leaflet with advice for anyone planning marine leisure activities in the Indian Ocean.
The UK Maritime Trade Organisation in Dubai is the primary point of contact for liaison with military forces in the region.
email: email@example.com to join their voluntary reporting scheme
Telephone: +971 50 552 3215
Telex: (51) 210473.
Maritime Security Centre Horn of Africa (MSCHOA) is manned 24/7 by military and merchant navy personnel from various countries and co-ordinates with military maritime forces in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean. It is the commercial/civilian link with the EU Naval Force Somalia.
Telephone: +44 1923 958545
Fax: +44 1923 958 520
The NATO Shipping Centre is the commercial/civilian link with the NATO maritime force.
Telephone: +44 1923 956 574
Fax: +44 1923 956 575
The Maritime Liaison Office, US Navy Bahrain, is a secondary point of contact after UKMTO and MSCHOA, but is manned 24/7.
Telephone: +973 3940 1395