As of October 2015, the High Risk Area (HRA) in East Africa has been reduced in size, with the Eastern limit shrinking from 078ºE to 065ºE. However, the old HRA zone is still a “voluntary reporting area” and vessels still need to proceed with caution.
The message from maritime security companies currently is: do not let your guard down if travelling in the famously dangerous waters off Somalia, because the risk of piracy hasn't been stamped out.
"Although the reduction of the HRA should be welcomed, it is important not to over emphasise the significance of this event," says Phil Cable, CEO of MAST, Maritime Asset Security and Training Ltd. "There is, of course, a clear link between these changes to the HRA and the reduction in threat in the Indian Ocean, but caution and a sense of perspective must be exercised before assuming that the area is free from risk."
According to MAST, the current catchphrase among military circles is that 'piracy is suppressed, not eradicated'. "Somali piracy remains a possibility in the Indian Ocean, Gulf of Aden and southern Red Sea, and the indications are that given the right opportunity, they will return to the kidnap and ransom business model that served them so well from 2008 to 2012," Cable says. "Fundamentally, as a yacht owner one should regard the high seas as an area where self-help and protection need to remain firmly in focus."
What this means in practical terms is that you are likely to see a reduction in any additional war risk premium on your yacht insurance. But it's important to note that insurance companies won't give yachts this "war" coverage, as it's known, unless a vessel has taken on security. We advise you speak to your insurance broker for specific advice on how this impacts your policy.