Can the IMO make areas off limits to commercial ships to protect them from piracy?

I was curious as to whether or not the IMO had the tools to make large sea areas off limits to commercial shipping in order to protect ships and crews from piracy as ship owners and charterers force Captains to run the gauntlet in order to save costs.
Could they amend / annex the ISPS code to reference the UN Security Council and Counter Terrorism Committee and have them classify an area up to 400nm off the Somali coast on the Indian Ocean and an area to within 25 to 30 nm of the coast of Yemen as areas that are “unsafe for navigation” thus relieving the vessel from it’s requirement to navigate through these areas under charterers orders and creating a relatively narrow shipping lane which is more effectively patrolled.
This would also prohibit, or at least deter, foreign fishing vessels from fishing and toxic waste ships from dumping within these areas, which appears to be the root cause of this problem.

You’re joking, right? :confused:

I hope so…

I think it would take years for IMO to do such a thing.

I think a far quicker action that would pressure shipping companies to avoid piracy areas are insurance companies writing it into the policies somehow. If the company is facing massive, uncovered liability they might consent to change the ship’s routing.

The other issue is whether this will work. These “mother ships” are quite capable of going hundreds of miles from land, so I am not sure that 400 nm would do it.


There are solutions to the problem of piracy. But it will have to be paid for by the shipping companies AND the insurance companies, in the form of lower rates if shipping companies have paid for extra security. Such as Take a look at this site.
This is a cheaper way of doing things than having a whole security team on board, you would only need one SSO to co-ordinate with the over-watch aircraft and the crew have to be fully trained.
This system works, look at your coast guards.

Is the cost of the extra day rates to go around the Cape of Good Hope more expensive than the cost of the suez transit+the ransom+any repairs from 7.62 rounds and/or RPG7 rounds+the cost in human flesh?

I think in allot of this companies not completely evaluating the costs.

Egypt gets the big revenue from the Suez Canal, correct? If Ships start going the other way en mass It will be to Egypt’s advantage to get down to somalia and cut off the head of the dragon.

I’m sure they can- but is it a good idea?

I’m not a big fan on restricting law abiding citizens to cut down on crime. Even if it works (usually doesn’t) you’ve restricted freedom in the name of safety. Which sets a dangerous precedent…

I doubt it’s likely to dissuade the pirates- they’ll just change their approach. Easy targets- big paydays- little risk- and until that changes the problem will persist.

My, how we keep going around in circles Gents!!!
IMO cannot do this, they could, but never will. They cannot even enforce the ISPS Code! The current status of the Piracy issue is simple business maths:

  1. Pirates Hijack and hold vessels for Ransom - Demanding approx 1.5 to 3 million UDS per vessel.
  2. The Insurance Companies load the Premiums and change their yearly coverage to “Per Transit”, SERIOUSLY increasing their revenue.
  3. The Insurance pays out ransom for on average less than 3% of the total amount of vessels transiting the GoA.
  4. The Pirates DO NOT kill anyone! They are business like and very efficient at negotiating and the vessels, cargo and crews released are all able to sail away without major issues (bar psychological!).
  5. Delays, additional pay to Crew et al the additional expense is covered on other insurance policies.
  6. Ship Owners keep paying the Insurance, the ransoms and the ever increasing Premiums.
  7. Pirates are happy, Insurance companies are happy etc…

Get the picture???


If 20K vessels per year transit the GoA and the average Insurance cover for K&R/Crew Abduction is $30K to $50K USD per vessel and they are only paying at most 4% of total insured against the 20K per year, then how must premium is being generated? Do the Math… It’s shocking!

Mmmm? So why has it not stopped? Well… I’ll leave that to you…

Comments welcome!

Good Point, but dont Shipping companies get a deal on insurance premiums if they have a maritime security force or go a certain time period without incident.