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The International Maritime Organization has urged ships navigating past the Somali coast to continue with counter-piracy measures despite a reduction the number of incidents. IMO Secretary-General, Kitack Lim, called on merchant shipping stakeholders to remain vigilant and continue protective measures against possible attacks in the Gulf of Aden and the western Indian Ocean area.
A report from the Oceans Beyond Piracy on Indian Ocean piracy activity for the last year also warns there is a great risk of piracy resurging in some form if the naval presence dissipates.
An international military alliance, including the EU Naval Force, still operates off the coast of Somalia, and Operation Atlanta counter-piracy mandate has been extended until the end of 2018.
However, the presence of ships involved in counter-piracy activities decreased by 15% last year, partly because the last major hijacking by Somali pirates, of the MT Smyrni, took place more than four years ago. Last December, the International Chamber of Shipping carried out a risk assessment on the area and recommended a downgrade from the High Risk Area status, following decreased incidents of piracy.
The IMO now recommends that activities of pirates and armed robbers be neutralized based on intelligence gathering.