Sri Lanka Coast Guard under the Ministry of Defense will be hosting this year’s two major events of Asian Coast guard Agencies; the Working Level Meeting (WLM) and the High-Level Meeting (HLM) of the 15thHeads of Asian Coast Guard Agencies Meeting (HACGAM) in Sri Lanka.
A press release issued on the matter stated that the two events are scheduled from 08th to 11th July and 07th to 10th October this year respectively, in Colombo.
It is the first time Sri Lanka Coast Guard is hosting this multilateral meeting and is expecting participants from 22 member countries including one associate member and two observer organizations for the HACGAM.
The HACGAM is a high-level multilateral meeting of Coast Guards and Maritime Law Enforcement agencies to ensure the safe, secure and cleaner seas in Asian region which was originated by the initiatives of Japan in 2004.
This annual meeting is aimed at the construct and development of Coast Guard agencies in the region through the working level discussions, identifying issues related to maritime security and safety, and also to maintaining a good relationship and mutual trust among member agencies.
The HACGAM has the four pillars that the member agencies to make cooperative and proactive efforts to achieve desired organization goals, that are Search and rescue, Environmental protection, Preventing and controlling unlawful acts at sea, and Capacity building with any other areas in which member organizations find a common interest.
At present HACGAM consists with 22 member countries and regions, namely Australia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brunei-Darussalam, Cambodia, People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Pakistan, Republic of Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam. In addition to that ReCAAP Information Sharing Centre has the associate membership and Bali Process, UNODC are the observers of the HACGAM.
The HACGAM was initiated by Japan after the capture of pirated vessel MV Alondra Rainbow in South East Asian waters by the Indian Coast Guard in November 1999. Concerning the maritime security threats to the Asian region Japan proposed a meeting among maritime security agencies in area and it was held the ‘Regional Conference on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery’ in year 2000 in Japan.
Since then and up until 2004, four Regional Senior Experts Meetings of Coast Guard agencies on ‘Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships’ were held in Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand.
Subsequently with Japanese initiatives the Heads of Asian Coast Guard Agencies Meeting was inaugurated in Japan in 2004 and continued as an annual multilateral regional meeting.