A General Overview of Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA)

Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) is an essential part of the United States maritime law enforcement campaign to strengthen maritime security–internally and internationally. Maritime Domain Awareness is a vast and encompassing subject and therefore merits a special mention when the marine security of nations isconsideredt.

The mission and objective of Maritime Domain Awareness are to collect the maximum information and intelligence about any ship or vessel in the country’s waters. With the collected data, a complete inference can be drawn about all those marine areas that could cause potential damage concerning safety, the ecosystem and the economic system. This process is known as ‘actionable intelligence.’

Through actionable intelligence, it becomes possible for the rightful authorities to ensure proper maritime law enforcement. Additionally, along with this aspect, the MDA also deals extensively in matters about anti-piracy methods, smuggling of drugs through marine channels and other unlawful activities that could be carried out through marine transportation.

The US Coast Guard collaborates with the navy to ensure proper Maritime Domain Awareness. Maritime law enforcement requires serious overhauling because of how terrorism and other unlawful activities are being carried out in recent times. Through MDA, it has become possible for a big and mighty nation like the United States to ensure that its marine borders are not infiltrated and that any potential risk is removed immediately.

Marine Domain Awareness involves collectively using technological aid to help better maritime law enforcement. Some of the technological devices that are utilised as a part of the Maritime Domain Awareness can be mentioned as follows:

  • Automatic Identification System (AIS)
  • Long range radars
  • Long-range Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV)

In addition to these existing technological aids, several others feature in the pipeline to ensure a wider bracket of maritime law enforcement. Some of these proposed gadgets can be named as follows:

  • Technology that will enable verification and confirmation of ships and passengers before the same embark from ports abroad.
  • Smart-boxes: These boxes have built-in sensors that help the authorities screen weapons and other unlawful objects being carried into the ship.

Challenges faced in the implementation of MDA

Presently the major challenge of the MDA is proper synchronisation and combination of the information gathered. Also, the information should be collated appropriately to be viable to numerous countries worldwide. The countries play a vital role because, in their absence, due to their lack of proactive participation, effective Maritime Domain Awareness cannot be achieved.

Such challenges are being met, and many more steps are being thought out to ensure that Maritime Domain Awareness becomes a more than substantial effecter of maritime law enforcement. This will potentially enable more countries to create a security enforcement campaign in the coming years for their marine areas.

Some benefits of MDA

MDA is used together with many other technologies, such as PurpleTrac. It allows traders, ship insurers, charterers and shipping organisations know about their maritime assets and logistics. MDA rerecognises global shipping trends, monitors the movement of vessels, port activity, and trade flows and always shares real-time vessel data.

MDA provides the data, intelligence and international visibility required to enhance the competitive advantage. It allows shipping companies to monitor their commercial vessels and third-party ships.

Given the complex state of affairs, maritime companies, business and financial institutions and governments should work in cooperation to keep a check on their respective supply chains and maritime domains to operate within environmental regulations and to monitor any deceptive shipping practices, illegal activities like human trafficking, illegal fishing, transhipments in exclusive economic zones etc.

Many international organisations emphasise the need for all parties to focus jointly on ensuring maritime safety in the world’s oceans. MDA offers security which allows businesses to flourish too.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What do you mean by Maritime Domain Awareness?

International Maritime Organization defines MDA as the effective understanding of anything related with the maritime domain that impacts or affects the security, safety, economy and the environment.

2. Which organisation is responsible for maritime security in the US?

The Maritime Administration or MARAD helps and supports the Department of Homeland Security in allocating federal grants to state, local and the private sector maritime industry partners to improve port security in the US.

3. What do you mean by maritime security?

Maritime Security is a broad term for classifying issues in the maritime sector which are associated with national security, marine environment, economic development and human security. For eg- it includes the safety of sailors, prevention of smuggling etc.

4. What are the advantages of MDA?

MDA allows traders, ship insurers, charterers and shipping organisations to know about their maritime assets and logistics. MDA recognises global shipping trends, monitors the movement of vessels, port activity, and trade flows and always shares real-time vessel data.

5. What are the technological devices used as part of MDA?

Marine Domain Awareness involves collectively using technological aid to help better maritime law enforcement. Some of the technological devices that are utilised as a part of the Maritime Domain Awareness are Automatic Identification System (AIS), Long range radars and Long-range Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV).

You may also like to read-

The Importance of Port Security

References: global security

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