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AT the recent meeting of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, the leaders of Australia, India, Japan and the US agreed to establish a new maritime domain awareness initiative called the Indo-Pacific Partnership for Maritime Domain Awareness (IPMDA)

According to the White House, the “IPMDA will build a faster, wider, and more accurate maritime picture of near-real-time activities in partners’ waters”.

A fact sheet released by the US President said the common operating picture will integrate three critical regions—the Pacific Islands, Southeast Asia, and the Indian Ocean region—in the Indo-Pacific.

“The benefits of this picture are vast: it will allow tracking of ‘dark shipping’ and other tactical-level activities, such as rendezvous at sea, as well as improve partners’ ability to respond to climate and humanitarian events and to protect their fisheries, which are vital to many Indo-Pacific economies,” the fact sheet reads.

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The IPMDA will accomplish these things by using commercially available data using existing technologies, such as AIS and radio-frequencies technologies.

According to the White House this will provide an “unprecedented ‘common thread’ of activities”.

And, as the data will be unclassified and of commercial origin, participating countries will be able to provide it to a range of partners.

The IPMDA will also extend support for information-sharing across existing regional fusion centres, such as the Information Fusion Center-Indian Ocean Region, based in India; the Information Fusion Center, based in Singapore; the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency, based in the Solomon Islands, and the Pacific Fusion Center, based in Vanuatu, both of which receive support from Australia.

Quad countries are to immediately begin consultations on the IPMDA with partners in the region.

According the Quad Joint Leaders’ Statement released after the meeting, “IPMDA embodies what the Quad stands for: catalysing our joint efforts towards concrete results that help to make the region more stable and prosperous,” the statement reads.

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