In the wake of the Ministerial meeting of the Indian Ocean Commission on maritime security issues held on 28th -29th April 2018 at the InterContinental Resort, Balaclava, Ministers in charge of security in the Indian Ocean region and representatives of regional and international organisations agreed on Regional Maritime Security Mechanisms.

The Conference adopted the Declaration on Maritime Security in Western Indian Ocean, called Mauritius Declaration on Maritime Security, on 29 April 2018 at Balaclava, and indicated its appreciation of the joint Plan of Action.

Maritime Security in the Western Indian Ocean is not only a regional challenge but also a worldwide challenge that requires an endogenous commitment and a collective response together with the support of the international community. The conference stressed on the necessity to ensure a minimal regional capacity as a deterrent element with regard to maritime crimes and threats. The importance of exchange of maritime information in line with national and international laws and regulation to enhance sea knowledge and address more effectively the issue of sea-blindness were also highlighted.

The Ministerial meeting agreed on the need for strengthening regional cooperation in the fight against maritime crime. Member States pointed out the relevance and necessity to continue and amplify their commitment and that of regional organisations in the activities of the Regional Program for the Promotion of Maritime Safety in the ESA-IO (MASE Program), in particular through the regional mechanisms for sharing and exchange of maritime information and the coordination of action at sea through dedicated regional Centres with the support of partners, namely the European Union. The Conference also calls for the establishment of the legal framework to effectively guarantee the confidentiality of information sharing and the coordination of joint actions at sea.

For the enhancement of maritime surveillance, the Ministerial Conference calls for:

the use of new and operational technologies, such as through the application of Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) images for vessel detection;

cooperation and technical assistance from partners including the European Union to promote an enabling environment in individual Member States; and

Knowledge management and sharing, technology transfer, training and sensitisation to build local capacity for maritime safety and security using remote sensing applications.

Other relevant issues that were discussed focussed on Combating terrorism threats and illegal trafficking (drug trafficking, human trafficking, arms trafficking, illegal trade, money laundering); Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing; Maritime pollution; Search and Rescue at sea; and Biodiversity and impacts of climate change.

Source: Government of Mauritius