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PH maritime agencies agree to create IORIS

March 22, 2023 Cristina Lee-Pisco 322 views

ELEVEN Philippine maritime agencies have agreed in a meeting in Manila to create a National IORIS (Indian Ocean Regional Information Sharing) governance structure to better manage maritime incidents both at national and regional levels.

The IORIS will be a neutral and secure information exchange and maritime coordinating platform serving the needs of national agencies across the Indo-Pacific and will best serve the operational interests of the Philippines and the European Union (EU).

Once established, the structure would allow the Philippines to be integrated into the wider IORIS Community being developed to address maritime challenges, with the twofold objective of facilitating the enhanced exchange of information with regional partners while also ensuring the long-term implementation and sustainability of the platform.

Philippine maritime agencies have received extensive training on the IORIS platform since 2021, and its use has harmonized inter-agency information flows, promoted collaboration and trust, and enhanced interoperability among one another ever since.

With the creation of the IORIS National Governance Structure, the signatory agencies agreed to become active members of the IORIS National Board, assuring the proper functionality of the platform at the national and regional level to best serve the operational needs of its users, remaining aligned with the tool’s fundamental objectives: interconnecting maritime agencies/authorities, at the national and regional level, to better address maritime security and safety challenges nationally and in the Indo-Pacific region, also supporting sustainable fisheries.

Closing the event, Martin Cauchi-Inglott, CRIMARIO (Critical Maritime Route Wider Indian Ocean) project director, said: “Philippines has been at the forefront of welcoming IORIS to the region, the action even commencing with intensity when COVID was at its peak. Philippines is now set to lead the way in taking ownership of IORIS, allowing itself to drive the process internally and bridge to external partners whenever it deems necessary. My hearty congratulations go to these most professional maritime agencies coming on board.”

The event was organized by CRIMARIO, an EU-funded project established in 2015 to contribute to enhancing maritime domain awareness, and which now addresses maritime security and safety threats, in collaboration with the Philippines National Coast Watch Center, an inter-agency body that provides strategic direction and formulates and promulgates policy guidelines on maritime issues and security in the country.

The project also contributes to enhancing Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA), through information sharing, capacity-building, and training in the Western Indian Ocean (WIO).

This was achieved through the development of the IORIS platform, a maritime coordination and communications tool for the region, coupled with extensive training programs on maritime data processing.

In 2020 the project was extended until 2025, and its geographical reach enlarged with the ambition of interconnecting the Indo-Pacific.

In this second phase, the project aims to: enhance information exchange and analysis, crisis/incident management, and strengthen inter-agency cooperation in maritime surveillance, policing, investigation, and judicial matters.

Through these objectives, CRIMARIO supports the implementation of the EU’s Indo-Pacific strategy, where the Union aims to promote an open and rules-based regional maritime architecture because “all will win through safer and more secure trade routes,” according to a statement.