Concerned at growing sea piracy in the Indian Ocean, particularly off the Horn of Africa, the Indian Ocean RIM - Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC) on Tuesday pledged to jointly combat the menace through sharing of information and technical assistance.
In the Bengaluru Declaration of the 19-member regional grouping, it said it shared concern over the prevailing situation regarding maritime security in the Indian Ocean, particularly at the growing level of piracy off the Horn of Africa, which posed a threat to international and regional navigation, maritime commerce and the safety of sea farer's.
The India chaired grouping of which Seychelles became the 19th member today fully supported the international efforts at the UN and the several initiatives at the regional level as well as the Contact Group on piracy of the coast off Somalia, which is coordinating anti-piracy efforts.
"We committed ourselves to cooperate fully through sharing of information and through technical assistance to jointly combat this menace," the declaration adopted at the Council of Ministers' Meeting of the 11th IOR-ARC here said.
"We noted that stabilisation of Somalia will contribute to dealing with piracy in the region. As members take practical steps consistent with international law to combat piracy, we agreed that IOR-RIM could serve as an effective vehicle for sharing information, experience and best practices," it said.
At the Bangalore meet, India took over as the Chair of the grouping which also comprises Yemen, Australia, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mozambique, Oman, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, the UAE and Seychelles.
In his concluding remarks, Krishna said the 19 countries from three continents decided to work together to realise the full potential of IOR-related institutions that have been established over the years.
He said the group discussed ways and means to consolidate cooperation in areas such as maritime security, combating piracy, natural disaster management, education, fisheries and marine resources management, trade and investment promotion, capacity building and tourism.
The 11th meeting of the council of ministers of IOR-ARC unanimously agreed to consider a new name for the association, and directed senior officials to undertake necessary consultations and report at the next meeting.
Noting that Indian Ocean Rim maritime domain is at the crossroads of commerce and its busy energy trade routes pass through vulnerable points, the Bengaluru Communique said the menace of piracy has assumed alarming proportions in recent years.
"Our cities have been target of global terror," it said. The member-nations underscored the importance of cooperation among them, including in the management and sustainable harvesting of fish stocks and combating illegal fishing and damaging fishing techniques, to further consolidate cooperation under IOR-ARC.
"We believe that intra-regional tourism offers interesting possibilities and suggest that relevant authorities of member countries target this sector for growth to realise the potential of cooperation to the fuller extent," the communique added.