Update on anti-piracy rules in Belgium

With the publication of a Royal Decree of 1 September 2016 in the Official Belgian State Gazette, the last update of the Belgian anti-piracy rules is now in place.

Armed guards on Belgian flagged vessels are allowed (under certain conditions) since the law of 16 January 2013. Meanwhile some of the rules on this topic have changed. I will give a brief outline of the recent changes.

Geographical limits

In the first version of the legal system supporting the use of armed guards on Belgian flagged vessels, the use was limited to a very specific area around Somalia. Due to a new Royal Decree of 1 September 2016 the area of application, has been extended to West Africa (Gulf of Guinee).

The following coordinates mark the borders of the geographical area.

17° 20' 00 Z, 11° 50' 00 O
17° 20' 00 Z, 10° 00' 00 O
10° 00' 00 Z, 10° 00' 00 O
0° 00' 00 Z, 0° 00' 00 O
0° 00' 00 Z, 10° 00' 00 W
10° 00' 00 N, 20° 00' 00 W
20° 45' 00 N, 20° 00' 00 W
20° 45' 00 N, 17° 00' 00 W

Due to this expansion the Belgian government has tried to respond to the rise of piracy in this area (as announced by the International Maritime Bureau). The extension of the zone of application will hopefully increase the safety of Belgian flagged vessels in this area.

End date

In the first draft of the legislation around armed guards the government wanted an expiration date on the presence of armed guards on Belgian flagged vessels. This was first set on 31 December 2016, and when this date was approaching the date was again changed to 31 December 2016.

However, the Belgian parliament has recently adopted a new law which removes the expiration date. Therefore the law is now in place for an indefinite term, or until the law is explicitly dissolved.


With these two simple measures, Belgium has increased the safety of Belgian flagged vessels. Our Belgian flagged vessels are now also protected in the Gulf of Guinee and the whole system stays in place for as long as needed, without expiration date.

For any questions on this topic please contact our firm.

The author is a transport lawyer in Belgium and he is part of the department international transport and maritime law at the firm Ambos NBGO, in Antwerp, Belgium.


For more information please contact philippe.vandijck@mboslaw.be  or peter.vandevijver@amboslaw.be or visit www.amboslaw.be




Published in: Legal insights