Piracy could move to the Mozambican Channel because of instability caused by piracy from Somalia, an analyst warned on Tuesday.

"Both sides (of the channel) are not particularly densely populated, are seriously under-policed and there is a lot of shipping going through," defence analyst Helmoed-Römer Heitman told a maritime security seminar in Pretoria.

Heitman said there would be a major difference between the Somali pirates and future Mozambican Channel pirates.

Pirates in Somalia could wait for ransoms to be paid because the country had no effective government.

Pirates in the channel would have to face the authorities at some stage, and would not have the time and space to wait for a ransom.

Heitman said they would probably not hold a crew for ransom, but kill them, loot the ship and sink it.

Local governments needed to "pre-empt" the prospect of piracy in the region by improving the economic situation of locals - in this case people living in Mozambique and Madagascar, he said.

The legal framework for arresting and charging pirates also needed to be addressed.

Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries should address problems that could come about as a result of hot pursuit operations crossing territorial waters, Heitman said.

South Africa was the only SADC member that had a navy of any size.

Madagascar, with more than 4 000 kilometres of coastline, had one patrol craft and one landing craft, he said. - Sapa