The inaugural Maritime Security and Surveillance Conference concluded last week, highlighting several important themes, including the need to continue building cooperation across the Gulf countries in the areas of maritime surveillance and security operations.
Lieutenant Commander Sheikh Mubarak Ali Y. Al Sabah, Chief of Maritime Operations, Kuwait Coast Guard, discussed in detail about areas of cooperation, and explained that cooperation is key in tackling the various maritime threats that the region is facing.
One of the initiatives taken by the region’s maritime authorities is the establishment of a GCC Maritime Centre in Bahrain. This centre aims to boost security in the Gulf, including that of vital shipping lanes for oil exports. Members of the GCC have agreed to share information and contribute assets to the centre.
“Approval has been given from all GCC leaders,” said Sheikh Saeed bin Hamdan Al Nahyan, Deputy Commander of the UAE Navy.
According to Lieutenant Commander Sheikh Mubarak Ali Y. Al Sabah, a primary problem in the Gulf waters is drug traffickers where a bust is made every two to three weeks. After each bust, the GCC nations share information about the incident and the lessons learnt.
Currently, an emerging concern in the region is piracy. There are no concrete laws that govern the intent to commit piracy. 15 pirates were captured by the UK at the start of last month and about 100 pirates were captured by India in the past year. These pirates will be detained till a court is found to conduct their trial or a law is created under which to prosecute them.
“There is no international law against the conspiracy to conduct acts of piracy,” said Chris Trelawny, Deputy Director of the Maritime Safety Division of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).
Trelawny further continued to say, “For a lot of pirates, their equipment is being taken off them and they are being sent back to Somalia. It’s not particularly satisfactory but it’s a pragmatic reality.”
Another key topic that was discussed was how to best build and maximise surveillance capability across the region’s territorial waters. Attendees heard from a number of speakers about the capabilities of different systems, including: High Frequency Surface Wave Radar in coastal surveillance systems from Frédéric Perret, Product Manager, Thales International, and Space-Based surveillance from Guy Thomas, Science and Technology Advisor, US Coastguard.
Organised by Clarion Events Middle East, the Maritime Security and Surveillance Conference was held with support of the Higher Committee for UAE Civil Seaports and Airports Security and hosted delegates from the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, United States of America, the United Kingdom, Europe, NATO and India.
World Maritime News Staff, February 7, 2012