Building regional maritime capacities

Spanish warship Navarra escorting vessel of the World Food Programme  ©EUSpanish warship Navarra escorting vessel of the World Food Programme ©EU

Coastal countries in the region suffer immensely from the economic impact of piracy: ports like Mombasa and Dar el Salaam are threatened and import costs go up due to increased transport costs, higher insurance premiums, etc. It is therefore in their strategic interest to engage in the fight against piracy, in addition to receiving suspects transferred for prosecution. In the long run, the waters of the Indian Ocean should be secured by the region itself, not international forces. The EU is therefore keen to assist in developing local capacities to ensure maritime security.

a) EUCAP Nestor CSDP mission

A new mission in support of Regional Maritime Capacity Building under the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) was launched in July 2012. It aims at enhancing the maritime capacities of initially five countries in the Horn of Africa and the Western Indian Ocean. EUCAP Nestor be a civilian mission augmented with military expertise. Its objective is to strengthen the capacity of states in the region to effectively govern their territorial waters and to reinforce their ability to fight piracy. Its two main tasks are:

- Strengthening the sea-going maritime capacities of Djibouti, Kenya, Tanzania, and the Seychelles;

- Strengthening the rule of law sector, initially in the Somali regions of Puntland and Somaliland, notably by supporting the development of a Coastal Police Force. Activities include expert advice on legal, policy and operational matters concerning maritime security; coast guard training to develop the ability to enforce law on the sea; and procurement of the necessary equipment. The mission will have no executive functions.

Its Headquarters is in Djibouti and the current mission mandate ends in July 2014. The Mission currently comprises about 100 staff and the Head of Mission is Ambassador Etienne de Poncins.

b) Critical Maritime Routes Programme

Funded under the EU's Instrument for Stability, the Critical Maritime Routes Programme has focused since 2009 on the security and safety of essential maritime routes in areas affected by piracy to help to secure shipping and trading lines of communication. Its long term goal is to improve maritime governance.

An ongoing €6 million project, MARSIC supports maritime security and safety in the Western Indian Ocean region by enhancing information sharing and training capacities. It contributes to the implementation of the regional Djibouti Code of Conduct targeted at fighting piracy and armed robbery against ships. The project focuses on capacity building and training of maritime administration staff, officials and coast guards from the region, i.a. Somalia, including Puntland and Somaliland. This includes assistance to setting up the Djibouti Regional Training Centre for maritime affairs. It also reinforces the capacity of states' coast guards and administrations, starting with Yemen and Djibouti, to ensure the surveillance and security of territorial waters by supporting the operations of the Regional Maritime Information Sharing Centre (ReMISC) in Sana'a (Yemen). 

Another project is implemented by INTERPOL and supports national law enforcement capacities (€1.6 million)to combat maritime piracy by providing necessary training and equipment to perform effective and pro-active investigations including on piracy financiers and organisers.

c) Regional Maritime Security Programme

Under the 10th European Development Fund, the regional Maritime Security Programme (MASE) will support the implementation of Eastern and Southern Africa – Indian Ocean Regional Strategy and Action Plan, which was adopted in October 2010 in Mauritius to fight piracy and promote maritime security by strengthening the capacity of the region. The EU is supporting the implementation of the regional strategy with approximately €37 million, mainly to develop a strategy to tackle piracy on land in Somalia; enhance judicial capabilities to arrest, transfer, detain and prosecute piracy suspects; address economic impact and financial flows related to piracy; and improve national and regional capacities in maritime security functions, including surveillance and coastguard functions.

d) Pilot project on piracy, maritime awareness and risks


Another key issue identified in the region is lack of maritime situational awareness. In response, the EU is conducting a Pilot Project on Piracy, Maritime Awareness and Risks implemented by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (€1 million). The project stems from the 2008 resolution of the European Parliament on piracy at sea; it is scientific in nature and has been running since 2010. It explores the potential use of civilian technical and affordable tools – such as satellite technologies – to develop an approach to obtain real-time situational awareness of ship traffic and risk monitoring.  This could in time help authorities in the Horn of Africa region to ensure maritime situational awareness for their counter-piracy actions.

e) Fight against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing in the Indian Ocean

While not directly focused on counter-piracy, actions to suppress illegal fishing have positive effects in improving regional maritime security capacities at large. The EU is actively supporting the fisheries sector national policies, including surveillance through the fisheries partnership agreements in the Indian Ocean, as well as contributing with technical assistance through ACP FISH II and Environment and Sustainable Management of Natural Resources including Energy (ENRTP) programmes.

The European Commission funded with €10 million a Regional Surveillance Plan for fisheries in the South West of the Indian Ocean from 2007 to 2011. The aim was to reduce the number of vessels fishing illegally in the area and to contribute to the conservation and sustainable management of tuna resources.

Currently underway, the SmartFish Programme aims to increase the level of social, economic and environmental development and deeper regional integration in the Indian Ocean region through improved capacities for the sustainable exploitation of fisheries resources. The programme is worth €21 million for the first of two implementation phases, and includes specific action in support of the Somali fishing industry.

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Containing piracy: EU NAVFOR – Operation Atalanta

Judicial international cooperation to end impunity

The way out: Stabilisation in Somalia through assistance and dialogue