MIMA Maritime Security Brown Bag Series 3/2017

Discussion on Single Maritime Point of Contact (SMPOC)
5 September 2017, Kuala Lumpur

A number of maritime issues plague the maritime realm. Among them are the sustainability of fisheries as a food source for the population and marine resources for the nation’s economy, as noted in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDG 14). Illegal Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing is one of the main reasons for the overexploitation of fisheries arising from destructive fishing (cyanide and bombing) practices. In addition, piracy, maritime terrorism, smuggling trafficking, illegal dumping, pollution, the security of undersea cables and offshore oil platforms, search and rescue, and disaster relief require a cooperative, concerted and calibrated approach.

For this purpose, a Single Maritime Point of Contact (SMPOC) discussion was held at MIMA to achieve a better understanding of the views of government agencies and maritime domain awareness (MDA) industries in enhancing and safeguarding maritime interests and providing timely responses to incidents at sea.

This round of Brown Bag series was attended by representatives from the National Security Council, Research Centre from the Prime Minister’s Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Enforcement Division - Attorney General Chambers, Royal Malaysian Navy, Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, Marine Operation Force-Royal Malaysia Police, Counter Terrorism Division – Royal Malaysia Police, Marine Department and the Malaysian Remote Sensing Agency.

Industry was represented by Safran, MALESO and Collecte Localisation Satellite (CLS).

Captain Martin A Sebastian, MIMA Centre Head and Senior Research Fellow moderated the discussion which produced many positive indicators for the enhancement of interagency cooperation. He informed the discussion that the subject of SMPOC was mooted by MIMA during the 2nd EU-ASEAN High Level Dialogue (HLD) on Maritime Security organized by MIMA in 2013. The HLD discussed the need for all existing SMPOCs in ASEAN to come together as a Security Complex against organized crime. Malaysia was one of the first ASEAN members to develop an SMPOC through the Maritime Enforcement Coordination Centre (MECC); however, with the evolution of technology in maritime security, a better MDA and enhanced inter-agency cooperation is required.

Capt. Martin also informed that addressing commercial capture fishery could be a starting point as a test case in interagency cooperation as it involves various agencies. Commercial fishing was addressed where fishery could be exported with premium prices if the growing need for traceability of fishing is complied. The EU and USA has enacted laws to affect these. Traceability is one of the deterrents to address IUU as Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (MCS) of fishing vessels will require better vessel tracking systems to track the origins of the fishery product. Besides traceability, better information on fish stock assessments, Maximum Sustainable Yields (MSY), and assessment of catch (for tax purposes) are issues requiring more attention. Vessel seaworthiness, crew employment, fishing gear compliance, search and rescue, fish landing, enforcement and various other matters also require multiagency responses.

Jean-Luc Meiffren, International Cooperation Director of Safran Group presented on a Malaysian Electronic Surveillance of the Oceans (MALESO). The proposal is to improve information sharing and detection capability in implementing best practices of surveillance. This initiative has been implemented in Indonesia as INDESO for better MDA management, satellite and communication facilities, collaborating with a variety of maritime sectors to enhance safety and security at sea in addressing multiagency issues. Besides small and large vessel identification tracking, the facility includes vessel identification, track and pattern analysis to assist in suspect activity and the effects of climate change on coastal areas via satellite imagery. The most important aspect is to create a central system to ensure all maritime agencies have an integrated operating procedure.


Participants at the MIMA Maritime Security Brown Bag Series 3/2017


The discussion achieved the main objective of obtaining consensus on the need for a common operating picture (COP) to facilitate information sharing to safeguard maritime interests, address the loss of maritime economy resources, and achieve timely response. Most importantly, the need for a credible deterrent against maritime threats can be achieved when unity of effort is attained. 

Discussants were concerned at the existing gaps inter agency cooperation and lack in successful convictions, and looked forward to better managing Malaysia’s maritime estate through enhanced partnerships with industries, NGOs, and the maritime community. Revisiting MECC and existing MCS systems used by various agencies may need to be evaluated and consolidated before recommending new systems. Capture fisheries are a valuable economic resource for the country and this requires enhanced interagency efforts to make it a thriving industry.


Presenters and participants at the SMPOC discussion

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