New Delhi: With the Indian Ocean region infested by Somali pirates, India is spearheading an effort to create a naval standard operating procedure (SOP) for the 32 littoral nations of the region to jointly fight the menace.
The effort at preparing the SOP is currently in progress at the India-initiated Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) taking place in South Africa, according to the Indian Navy.
IONS came into being in February 2008 when India invited the navy chiefs of the 32 littoral nations, including Pakistan, for the first session of the initiative in New Delhi.
The 2012 edition of IONS is chaired by the South African Navy Chief. Indian Navy Chief Admiral Nirmal Verma is in Cape Town to attend the meet.
The IONS meet was declared open by South African Minister for Defence and Military Veterans Lindiwe Sisulu on Wednesday.
The proposal for a common SOP for all Indian Ocean region's navies was made by Verma while addressing the IONS on Thursday and the issue was discussed by the navy chiefs from the region on Friday, an Indian Navy official said.
Chairing a panel discussion, Verma highlighted the contributions of the Indian Navy in addressing issues of collective maritime security such as anti-piracy operations.
He also mentioned the killing of innocent Indian fishermen by the security crew of an Italian cargo ship last month.
"In this context, with the aim of reducing the probability of a repetition of the incident related to the shooting of innocent fisherman off Kochi, he mentioned the necessity for a clear demarcation of piracy-affected waters based on ground realities," Verma said.
He also stressed upon the necessity for IONS to formulate a set of deliverables such as Standard Operating Procedures on issues related to Maritime Security that would make it easier for member nations to come together in times of a crisis.
Verma's remarks were reportedly well received and the issues highlighted by him were taken up for further discussion during the conclave.