Sri Lanka: UNODC advances Maritime Security by improving Maritime Domain Awareness

Colombo, Sri Lanka/31 October 2023: In the months of September and October 2023, Sri Lanka played host to an extensive program focused on maritime domain assessment and training. The core objective of this assessment was to identify the key agencies involved in maritime domain awareness and gauge their level of expertise. The findings from this evaluation underscored the Sri Lanka Navy and Coast Guard as the primary responders responsible for safeguarding maritime domain security. Meanwhile, Customs and Immigration agencies primarily focused on border management, and the Fisheries Department maintained its focus on monitoring fishing vessels.

In light of the above, UNODC organized several training programmes to enhance national capabilities on maritime domain awareness. From September 18th to 28th, 2023, Sri Lanka conducted a comprehensive training programme, spanning from fundamental to intermediate levels, on maritime domain awareness. The roster of participants included officers from the Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DFAR), the Sri Lanka Navy, and the Sri Lanka Coast Guard. These meticulously designed courses delved into the principles and practices of maritime domain awareness, covering vital aspects like monitoring, tracking, and analyzing maritime traffic. The courses also provided valuable insights into the effective utilization of various cutting-edge technologies, including RADAR, AIS, satellite imagery, and airborne assets.

The Information Fusion Centre, situated at the Navy headquarters in Colombo, took a proactive step by seeking assistance from UNODC. Their aim was to enhance their Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) with the intention of fostering improved cooperation among national agencies. These discussions played a pivotal role in shaping the agenda for upcoming interagency collaboration activities scheduled for the following week. In this regard, an interagency workshop held in October convened thirteen (13) officials representing seven (7) maritime law enforcement agencies, including Port Authorities, Customs, Navy, Coast Guard, Fisheries Department, Merchant Shipping Secretariat, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The workshop was meticulously designed to facilitate in-depth discussions on timely responses, challenges associated with interagency coordination, and maritime law. Its overarching goal was to fortify collaboration and address any hindrances to effective interagency cooperation.

The invaluable insights gleaned from these assessments and training courses will play a pivotal role in shaping UNODC's planning for future training initiatives in the area of maritime domain awareness in Sri Lanka. As Sri Lanka continues to fortify its capabilities in maritime security, effective cooperation and coordination among key agencies will remain critical in safeguarding its maritime interests. The journey toward a safer and more secure maritime domain is well underway.

These activities were possible thanks to the generous support from the Government of Japan, and contribute to SDG 14 and 16: