Dar es Salaam: African, Middle Eastern and Asian nations have agreed to draw up a plan to combat piracy in the Indian Ocean in a bid to end the damage it is inflicting on maritime trade, the United Nation's International Maritime Organisation said.
A cooperation agreement is the only way to keep open the shipping routes for tourists and freight, said Koji Sekimizu, the IMO's director of maritime safety in Tanzania.
Sekimizu was speaking at the end of a week-long conference in Dar es Salaam to draw up a plan on how more than a dozen countries on the coasts of east Africa, the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea can stop the rise in the number of armed attacks on ships.
Reported cases of piracy rose by 10 per cent last year, according to the International Maritime Bureau's Piracy Reporting Centre. The attacks on ships have become increasingly violent, it added.
Maritime officials from Tanzania, Madagascar, Mauritius, Djibouti, Yemen, South Africa, Kenya, Comoros, Sudan, Somalia, the UK, Korea, the US, France and Egypt attended.
The draft plan, which is not yet available for public release, commits nations to step up law enforcement, boost information sharing and improve statistical reporting on piracy, said Sekimizu.
France and the US might, for example, play a part by increasing patrols in the area.
Attacks off Nigeria on the west coast of Africa and Somalia on the east coast recorded the biggest increase during the year.