The objective of Maritime Security is mainly to protect Indian coastal and offshore assets response to attacks and threats, risks emanating from or at sea.
The seamless nature of the maritime domain enables ready flow of threats and challenges from one area to another. In recent years, the rise in non-traditional threats, especially maritime terrorism, has necessitated increased focus on coastal and offshore security.
Maritime terrorism has grown and expanded over the years, operating from the sea and at sea, in both direct and indirect forms. It has also started taking an increasingly hybrid character, with possible blurring of lines between conventional and sub-conventional levels of conflict.
The strategy for coastal and offshore security should accordingly, been developed with focus on the Indian Navy, as per its current mandate and being the principal maritime force of the nation, in a framework of jointness and coordination with the other maritime agencies. An increasing role and operational responsibilities are envisaged to be takenup by the Indian Coast Guard and other agencies, as their capabilities and the ambit of coastal security both evolve.
Different facets of maritime security
The Indian Navy
Entrusted with the responsibility for overall maritime security, including coastal security and offshore security. The Indian Navy is assisted by the Indian Coast Guard, State Marine Police, andother Central and State agencies for the coastal defence of the nation, and controls all Navy - Coast Guard joint operations. The Indian Navy supports the Indian Coast Guard within the maritime zones as required, and provides presence, including surveillance and patrol, on the high seas beyond the EEZ. The Indian Navy also undertakes patrolling in the ODA, and its Sagar Prahari Bal (SPB) specialised force undertakes patrolling of naval harbours.
State Marine Police
The State Marine Police is responsible for patrolling the inner layer from the coastline upto the territorial waters, in coordination with Customs, Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and respective port authorities, as relevant.
Indian Coast Guard
The Indian Coast Guard patrols the maritime zones of India, and supports the State Marine Police within the inner layer as required.
Different reporting mechanism for handling security?
Importance of coastal community participation
Coastal and fishing communities are the largest constituents of the coastal security framework and are amongst its core strengths. Effective involvement of the vast fourmillion strong fishing community, and the larger coastal community, has the potentialto significantly complement efforts of the security agencies.
The maritime security agencies have initiated many activities related to it such as:
Community Interaction Programmes (CIP) are being conducted by the Indian Coast Guard at all fishing hamlets, to enhance awareness of the coastal populace and fishermen in particular. Initiatives such as the Sagar Rakshak Dal and Village Vigilance Committees, who are a voluntary group from fishing and coastal communities, assist the security agencies in surveillance, intelligence and patrolling, and have contributed to enhancing coastal security in several states.
Toll free communication arrangements have been established, with shore-based control centres manned by State Marine Police/Indian Coast Guard personnel in all states and Union Territories (UTs), in order to facilitate coastal community participation. These measures have not only improved security but have also saved lives, and provide an important link between fishermen and security agencies
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.