UK authorities have identified two distinct pirate groups operating in the open sea of the Indian Ocean.

The first group is active about 600 nautical miles (1,100 km) south-east of the Yemeni island of Socotra, the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) said in an alert on Tuesday.

The second engages even further out at sea, east of the Maldives, around 0.034 north and 61.29 east.

“Both pirate action groups could include a mothership and a number of small craft,” the UKMTO added, urging vessels to transit the area with caution and report any suspicious activity.

The advisory comes as calls are on the rise to acknowledge the resurgence of Somali piracy after a lull of seven years and to mobilise resources against it.

As TradeWinds reported on 30 January, the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) said it wants a United Nations-appointed anti-piracy group to meet and consider how to respond to the recent series of hijacking attempts.

After a UN Security Council mandate on counter-piracy expired in March 2022, experts warned that anti-piracy measures have been on the decline in recent years, opening the door for more attacks.

Conditions for piracy have improved further due to the distraction of naval forces by Houthi attacks on merchant ships associated with Israel and its Western backers.

The two groups described by the UKMTO are likely responsible for three foiled attacks by Somali pirates over the weekend against fishing boats from Iran and Sri Lanka.

All three hijackings were thwarted, leading to the release of 42 seafarers and the capture of 14 Somali pirates.

The Indian Navy announced that the pirates may have stormed the fishing boats to use them as motherships for attacks on larger, commercial vessels.

The fishing boats apart, the IOC said on Tuesday that it has identified six acts of piracy in the Indian Ocean since November. These include the capture of the 41,600-dwt bulker Ruen (built 2016) off Somalia in December, which was the first successful pirate hijacking since 2012.

Houthi fighters separately hijacked the 5,100-ceu car carrier Galaxy Leader (built 2002) in the Red Sea on 19 November.