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Integrated Maritime Surveillance

The European maritime area is a common capital asset with regard to resources, security and ultimately prosperity of the Member States. European seas are also the scene of unlawful activities. Trafficking in narcotics and human beings thrives on organised crime and illegal immigration. It is anticipated that in the mid and long term the European maritime area will continue facing risks and threats that could endanger human lives, marine resources and the environment, as well as significantly disrupt the transport chain and global and local security.

But whilst the activities and threats that face Member States at sea are transnational in nature, currently each activity sector maintains situational awareness according to its remit and mandate. Different sectoral authorities –border control, customs, fisheries control, maritime safety, marine pollution response, maritime security of ships and ports, prevention and suppression of criminal activities– dealing with monitoring and surveillance of actions at sea gather data and operational information. Yet for the moment, most of this data continues to be collected and used for sector specific purposes and one community does not necessarily benefit from the data collected by another community.

In this context, there is a clear need to share maritime surveillance information. Developing the necessary means to allow for such data and information exchange should enhance the different users’ awareness picture. Such enhanced picture will increase the efficiency of Member States’ authorities and improve cost effectiveness.

In its Communication on the Integrated Maritime Policy for the European Union [ ~ 271 Kb] , the European Commission undertook to “take steps towards a more interoperable surveillance system to bring together existing monitoring and tracking systems used for maritime safety and security, protection of the marine environment, fisheries control, control of external borders and other law enforcement activities. “The Commission’s communication on integration of maritime surveillance,, constitutes a first concrete, overarching and strategic step to fulfil this mandate. It spells out guiding principles for the development of a common information sharing environment for the EU maritime domain and to launch a process towards its establishment.

In parallel two pilot projects to test in a theatre of operations how integrating maritime surveillance can work in practice are being launched. One in the Mediterranean basin and another in the Northern European sea basins.

For more information about achieving complete maritime domain awareness and utilising the most effective technology and platforms, please visit IQPC’s 8th Annual Maritime Reconnaissance & Surveillance website.

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