by Bao Phan | Senior Operator
What does HRA mean in shipping ?
The High Risk Area, or HRA, is an area that is highly prone to pirate attacks and within which the use of armed guards and weapons are usually required.
West Africa HRA was designated as an HRA in 2012 by the International Bargaining Forum (IBF) due to the escalating number of pirate attacks off West Africa waters.
What is the HRA limit for West Africa waters ?
Unlike Indian Ocean HRA, where the boundaries are listed clearly by UKMTO and JWC, West Africa waters is a much more complex area, this is largely due to two main reasons:
- The flexibility in which the Gulf of Guinea pirates operate, which makes it extremely difficult to pinpoint a precise area.
- Limited resources, capabilities and cooperation between West African governments.
As a guidance, the area off the coasts of Ghana, Nigeria, Togo, Cameroon and Benin should be regarded as an area in which self-protective measures are required. As of 12 June 2014, the LMA Joint War Committee defines the following limits for the Gulf of Guinea:
- The territorial waters of Benin, Togo and Nigeria, plus
- Nigerian Exclusive Economic Zone north of latitude 3º N, plus
- Beninese Exclusive Economic Zones north of latitude 3º N.
- Togolese Exclusive Economic Zone north of latitude 3º N.
Despite the above limits, pirate attacks have occurred well outside, going as far West as Abidjan and as far South as Gabon. So unfortunately, proceeding outside the designated area does not always guarantee safety.
Below is a graphic depicting the limits for West Africa HRA more realistically by the Norwegian Maritime Authority: