Christian Bueger

Awareness Meeting of the IFC

The Information Fusion Center (IFC) based in Singapore is one of the most important regional maritime security information sharing centers. One of their core functions is to collect and distribute information on maritime security incidents to an international public and in particular the international shipping community.

One of the formats that the IFC uses is the so-called Shared Awareness Meeting (known as SAM). SAM takes place every couple of months and it is usually a half day meeting in Singapore bringing the regional stakeholders together. On the 15th of July I had the opportunity to participate in the 35th SAM. Due to Covid restrictions it was held for the first time completely virtual. The meeting attracted an unprecedented number of 200 participants.

The meeting consisted of several updates and briefings. The IFC gave an overview of the situation in its Area of Interest (which basically comprises Southeast Asia as well as the Indian Ocean as far east as Maldives). The briefing documented a consistent level of blue crimes in the area, including to incidents categorised as maritime terrorism occuring in Maldives.

The briefing was complemented by presentations on other piracy hot spots, including a presentation on the Gulf of Aden, in which violence at sea spilling over from the Yemen conflict is now the biggest challenge. A representative from the French navy gave a briefing on the Strait of Hormuz, introducing the new EU operations EMASOH and AGENOR. Representatives from MDAT GOG documented how the situation in the Gulf of Guinea is increasingly escalating with a record number of piracy incidents taking place. The briefing was complemented through a presentation by Intertanko (one of the main international shipping associations). The shipping industry representative was particularly concerned by the situation in the Gulf of Guinea, indicating that there are considerations to declare a High Risk Area and that new industry guidance has been published for the region.

SAM is a very important instrument for informing the international shipping industry as well as other stakeholders about current development. It was interesting to see how the IFC increasingly uses this format to provide insights going beyond its immediate Area of Interest.

If you are interested in learning more about the IFC and its approach to maritime domain awareness read my articles on the center. This one provides an introduction to the IFC and how it fits into the regional seascape, and this one a more detailed discussion of its current functions.

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