Marina, PCG, EU maritime project ink pact on use of info sharing system

(L-R) National Coast Watch Center (NCWC) Director Vice Adm. Roy A. Echeverria and Maritime Industry Authority Administrator Hernani Fabia sign a memorandum of agreement along with the European Union (EU)-funded Critical Maritime Routes in the Indian Ocean project (not in photo) on Sept. 7, 2023 which will enable the two agencies to use the Indo-Pacific Regional Information Sharing (IORIS) platform. (Courtesy of Marina)

A collaborative agreeement has recently been signed by the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), and the European Union (EU)-funded Critical Maritime Routes in the Indian Ocean project (CRIMARIO II) to enable the two government agencies to use the Indo-Pacific Regional Information Sharing (IORIS) platform

Under the agreement, the Marina and PCG’s National Coast Watch Center (NCWC) will have access to IORIS functionalities and satellite services.

IORIS is a "neutral and secure, web-based maritime coordination and information sharing tool" which can be used by national and regional agencies so they could jointly plan and coordinate maritime safety and security operations using the latest encrypted technologies that are only accessible to authorised users, centers, and administrations.

In a statement Tuesday, Sept. 12, Marina Administrator Hernani Fabia said that their partnership with the EU-CRIMARIO and NCWC "will further strengthen our camaraderie and intensify maritime security."

"This significant undertaking is an integral part of the country's Maritime Industry Development Plan 2028 (MIDP). Rest assured that the terms stipulated in the Memorandum of Agreement and the IORIS Partnership Agreement will be diligently observed by our agency,” Fabia said.

“Indeed, with our valuable partnership and mutual cooperation, I am confident that we will achieve a safer and more secure maritime industry within the archipelago,” he added.

Amid the intrusion of foreign vessels in different parts of the country’s maritime territory such as the West Philippine Sea (WPS), NCWC Director Vice Adm. Roy A. Echeverria stressed the comprehensive nature of their duty and the importance of having a means to share real-time information with other government agencies.

“Our duty extends beyond safeguarding our waters; it reaches into securing the livelihoods of our people, protecting our environment, and fortifying the foundations of our maritime industry. With this responsibility comes the understanding that our successes rely on our ability to form alliances, share expertise, and align our strategies,” Echeverria said.

The Marina and PCG joined more than 40 civilian and military agencies from over 20 countries across the Indo-Pacific region that use the IORIS platform, according to CRIMARIO II Project Director Martin Cauchi Inglott.

Meanwhile, Dr. Ana Isabel Sanchez Ruiz, deputy head of the EU delegation to the Philippines, underscored value of beefing up the maritime capacity of EU’s partners in the Indo-Pacific such as the Philippines so they can better address threats to maritime safety and security, respond to disasters, protect the marine environment, and manage fish stocks sustainably.

“The EU and the Philippines share a vision of the Indo-Pacific as a space of peace, stability and prosperity.  Contributing to ocean governance and maritime security through cooperation with partners in the region is one of the pillars of this shared vision,” she said.