Dec 16, 2021 - 15:06

As part of the wider EU effort to strengthen regional resources, EU NAVFOR is working with regional partners, including the Indian Ocean Commission, to strengthen a sustainable security architecture. In close partnership with regional states, the EU has been developing a comprehensive approach to address maritime threats in the Western Indian Ocean to increase Maritime Domain Awareness through capacity building and information exchange.

On December 16th, EU NAVFOR ATALANTA, the Regional Maritime Information Fusion Centre (RMIFC) in Madagascar and Regional Centre for Operational Coordination (RCOC) in Seychelles signed a Memorandum of Understanding to cooperate and contribute to the coordination of maritime security operations and to foster the sharing and exchange of maritime information. During a virtual ceremony held in the framework of the Friends of the Chair Meeting of the Contact Groups on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, Operation Commander, Vice Admiral José M. Núñez Torrente, the Director of the RMIFC, Captain Franck Razafindraibe and the Director of the RCOC, Mr. Georges Adeline officially signed the Partnership Protocol.

“I am glad to witness this great landmark for all of us. I am confident that we will develop synergies that will help us to fulfil our missions in the most efficient way with a better understanding on how we can support each other both, now and in the future.” Vice Admiral José M. Núñez Torrente

Given the recent adjustment of EU NAVFORs mandate to address other illegal activities, our interactions with the regional centres needed to be strengthened, particularly in terms of information sharing and coordination at sea. There is a strong demand for support from both centres in terms of exchanges of information and expertise. More specifically, ATALANTA and regional states in the area share the common interest of tackling transnational criminal networks in general, and drug trafficking, in particular.

This agreement is the first of its kind with maritime security centres and will be at the heart of a new enhanced cooperation on the region. In particular, it sets the framework for an immediate interface for all needs in information sharing, to provide situational awareness on developments in the region regarding Maritime Security and supports the improvement of EU NAVFORs Maritime Domain Awareness in the Southern part of its Area of Operations.

ATALANTA efforts are paired with the EU Maritime Security Programme (MASE), the EU regional programme that supports the implementation of the Regional Strategy and Action Plan to fight piracy and promote maritime security in the Eastern and Southern Africa–Indian Ocean. MASE involves main regional organisations, as the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC), the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the East Africa Community (EAC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), and is also implemented in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Through the (MASE) Programme, the EU supports the RCOC in Seychelles and the RMIFC in Madagascar with equipment and training. The two regional centres are crucial in organising a more effective and coordinated fight against maritime crime off the Horn of Africa. In addition, the EU programme CRIMARIO developed the Indian Ocean Regional Information Sharing platform (IORIS) - a Maritime Coordination & Communications secure platform and transferred its administration to both regional centres in order to enhance interagency collaboration at a national and regional level.