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Safe Shipping: A Forgotten Aspect of Maritime Security in the Pacific

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In the vast panorama of maritime security, the often-overlooked facet of maritime safety holds paramount importance, encompassing regulations, seafarer welfare, and environmental preservation. Sadly, the Pacific grapples with one of the world's highest per capita fatality rates due to maritime incidents. 

Aging, ill-maintained vessels coupled with inadequate safety measures have led to tragic accidents, particularly among coastal fishers and small-scale local transport vessels.

Efforts to enhance maritime safety in the Pacific are imperative, focusing on equipped vessels, weather information accessibility, and effective monitoring systems. While regional fisheries agencies monitor vessels for fishing activities, there's a significant gap in tracking vessels for safety purposes. This deficiency hampers search and rescue operations, necessitating better maritime domain awareness (MDA) platforms, such as satellite coverage and automatic identification systems (AIS).

Australia, a longstanding maritime security ally, must now prioritize maritime safety in the Pacific. It could significantly contribute by expanding MDA platforms, ensuring AIS and satellite coverage, and establishing common safety standards. Collaboration with Pacific partners and support for legislation enactment on maritime safety measures are vital steps toward improved safety regimes.


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Encouraging high safety standards among aid partners and bolstering coordination through existing regional frameworks would fortify Pacific-led safety priorities. Collaboration with New Zealand on maritime safety programs and tailored country-driven initiatives, along with investments in training and localized support, would mark significant strides in elevating maritime safety in the Pacific region.

Australia's profound expertise and commitment to maritime security position it as a linchpin in fortifying maritime safety across the Pacific. Prioritizing this crucial aspect will not only enhance security but also safeguard the lives and livelihoods of the Pacific peoples.

Source: ASPI The Strategist