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Project to track small fishing vessels pending since 26/11

  • Category
  • Published
    14th Jun, 2022


  • Need for Maritime security
  • Persistent issues
  • Available mechanism
  • Major challenges
  • Way forward


A long plan to execute a satellite based vehicle monitoring system since 26/11 Mumbai attack; the process is still facing hurdles. The long unfulfilled journey is widening the threat over maritime security.


  • India with huge coastline is vulnerable to the threats emerging from maritime domain.
  • After the Mumbai attack of 26/11 Indian government had increased the focused on the maritime security domain.
  • Apart from the maritime terrorism, blue economy is a major part of the Indian economy requires security of fisherman community and their livelihood.
  • Tokyo summit of the QUAD grouping has enhanced the focused on the maritime security concerns over Indo-Pacific region and announced an ambitious Indo-Pacific Maritime Domain Awareness (IPMDA) initiative.
  • On the strategic front Indo-Pacific is gaining a significance to fulfill the interests of major powers of the world, providing a ground for power tussle of the countries.


Why maritime security is important for India?

  • Water for trade: India’s major import and exports is carried out through the maritime water, thus enhancing the importance of securing coastlines is imperative of economic growth.
  • Maritime threats: India’s huge coastlines, around 7000km, increases the vulnerability to maritime threats as testified by 26/11 Mumbai attacks.
  • Blue economy: One of the major economic activities of the coastal states of India, comprising around 4% of the Indian economy, with an immense future potential.
  • Strategic Factor: Increasing Chinese influence and assertiveness in the Indian Ocean Region providing a potential threat to the India’s regional interest.
  • Security of the fisherman
  • Ocean resource security

What are the persistent issues in Maritime Security?

  • Piracy: One of the major persistent threat in the martime security is, pirate attacks on ships and vessels.
  • Terrorism: International waters provide a safe ground to the terrorist organisations to execute the plan of action.
  • Illegal migration: International waters serve as a safe gateway to enter into another country’s territory. A higher degree of illegal migration takes place through maritime water.
  • Transnational Organised crimes: Maritime waters are also used for organized transnational crimes, impacting the global economy and security of the state like trafficking of drugs and narcotic substances, firearms and human.
  • Environmental Concern: Rising pollution and climate change have threatened the marine and aquatic lives along with creating a severe influence over natural calamities like floods and cyclones.

Mechanism available for combating maritime security:

  • United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) provides a framework regarding rights and responsibility of the nations over international waters.
  • SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region) Doctrine: Indian initiative, aims to deepen the economic and security cooperation with its maritime neighbours, along with enhancing their security capabilities.
  • Indo-Pacific Oceans’ Initiative (IPOI)
  • QUAD initiative to ensure safe, secure and free Indo-Pacific region
  • National level mechanism:
    • The Customs Marine Organisation
    • The Indian Coast Guard
    • Operation Tasha
    • Operation Swan
    • Monitoring system

What are the major challenges ahead of India’s maritime security?

  • No proper legislative structure: Implementation of legislative method regarding maritime security faces certain hurdles:
    • State List issue: Fisheries are defined under the state list barring the central government to legislate over the subject.
    • Hindrances from fisherman: Vehicle monitoring system cannot be mandated due to agitation arising from fisherman community to prevent their privacy on good yield and illegal activities.
  • Transnational Interest: India shares its international waters with other countries as well, e.g., Sri Lanka., which hinders the process of stringent legislative actions on maritime security.
  • Non obedience over international laws and arbitration process.
  • Lack of Universal International laws over international waters.
  • Geopolitical dominance over security interest.

What should be done?

  • Five points agenda on maritime security by UNSC
    • Free maritime trade without barriers to establishing legitimate trade; 
    • Settlement of maritime disputes should be peaceful and on the basis of international law only; 
    • Responsible maritime connectivity should be encouraged; 
    • Need to collectively combat maritime threats posed by non-state actors and natural calamities; 
    • Preserve the maritime environment and maritime resources.
  • Diplomatic channels: Diplomatic channels should be fostered for better collaboration with the maritime neighbour states.
  • Coastal development plans should be executed
  • Involvement of state police for securing maritime borders.
  • Vehicle monitoring system for the fishing vessels
  • Satellite monitoring of weather forecast and disaster resilient preparedness



Coastal security involves multiple stakeholders with both, independent and shared responsibilities. Hence coordination amongst these agencies should be maintained through a cooperative approach that will focus on the key aspects described below, whilst remaining sensitive to any limitations and constraints of partner agencies. This should takes into consideration the specific needs of changing threat levels, including conditions wherein a coastal security operation may need to translate rapidly into a coastal defence operation, with joint deployment of forces from multiple maritime agencies. 

Practice Question

Q1. What efforts have been taken by India to address Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing in the Indian Ocean? Examine the significance of Indo-Pacific Maritime Domain Awareness (IPMDA) initiative in this regard.

Q2. India’s coasts have always been vulnerable to criminals and anti-national activities. Discussing the possible threats, highlight the measures undertaken for coastal security in India.


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