ESC Global Security (ESCGS) has welcomed the decision by the Contact Group for Piracy off the Coast of Somalia to reduce the size of the Indian Ocean’s high risk area.

But ESCGS warns that this could lead to a flood of weapons on the black market as private military and security companies (PMSCs) go bust.

“The geographical reduction to the Indian Ocean HRA from 1 December is good news for the shipping industry,” said Madia Madalik, ESCGS chief operating officer.

He added: “My main concern is what will happen to the arsenal of very sophisticated weapons that bankrupt PMSCs have stored in floating armouries.”

A report in July from the International Maritime Bureau said that in the first six months of 2015 no vessels had been attacked in the Gulf of Aden or Red Sea.

The company claims that with the attack threat decreasing, security firms are expected to close in the coming months meaning their weapons could be unaccounted for.

“If the floating armouries go out of business or if their clients are unable to pay to get their weapons back for decommissioning then what will these armours do with them? This is a major concern,” said Mr Madalik.

He continued: “There is certainly no register of vessels or barges operating as armouries and no inventories of the weapons they store.”

The maritime storage of weapons is currently unregulated but Peter Cook, CEO of the Security Association for the Maritime Industry (SAMI) said: “This is a serious issue and one that is being addressed at an international level.”

By Alice Mason