Warm welcome from Maritime Authority General Director and Maritime Police Commander and Coastal Control Unit Commander
It is with great honor that we announce that Portugal has assumed the presidency of the European Coast Guard Functions Forum (ECGFF).
This moment marks an important step for the cooperation and coordination of coast guard functions across Europe. By leading this initiative, Portugal demonstrates its commitment to maritime safety, protection of the marine environment, and the promotion of international cooperation.
Please get to know the new co-chairs speeches, vice-admiral João Dores Aresta and major-general Jorge Ludovico Bolas, on the occasion of the transfers ceremony.
It is with great honor and responsibility that I assume the presidency of the ECGFF on behalf of Portugal, co-chaired by the National Maritime Authority, the Navy and the National Guard (GNR).
We live in a challenging and ever-changing global environment where societies are increasingly vulnerable to threats and risks. From a coastguard perspective, there are several threats to the safe and secure use of the sea, or threats that use the sea as an enabler for illegal or malicious activities. Within the scope of Maritime Authority´s mission, attention is drawn to:
- Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing, particularly elvers (juvenile lampreys) in the north area and clams in the Tagus river;
- Drug trafficking and irregular migration in the European south-west corner;
- Maritime accidents and pollution, across the 3,1 million square miles of the Portuguese Search and rescue area.
The uprising diffuse and hybrid threats have made the distinction between security and defence increasingly blurred and permeable, requiring a joint and articulated approach between entities in both national and international contexts.
The co-chairmanship we are now assuming is proof of our commitment to the objectives of this forum - coordination, cooperation, collaboration - because no State or institution alone can guarantee the free use of the sea and the security of maritime spaces in their safety, protection and defence dimensions. By chairing the Forum for the second time in seven years, we are reaffirming our commitment to the ECGFF.
It is, therefore, a challenge that we are taking up with enthusiasm, commitment and determination.
- Enthusiasm, for the opportunity to increase cooperation, mutual knowledge, interoperability, and the exchange of knowledge and good practices, contributing to the affirmation of this forum as an instrument for promoting maritime safety, latu sense.
- Commitment by establishing a GEPP, composed of representatives of the DGAM, the Navy and the GNR, mandated to develop a collaborative, efficient and proactive work in partnership with the EC and EFCA, EMSA and FRONTEX, involving whenever possible the local community and other national and international bodies.
- Determination to make the vision of a safe, secure, sustainable, and prosperous European maritime space a reality.
Allow me to shed light on the pivotal themes that will characterize Portugal's presidency.
- Firstly, we would like to highlight the pivotal role of women in coastguard functions. We firmly believe in the importance of diversity and inclusivity within the maritime sector. Women have made and continue to make invaluable contributions to maritime safety, and it is our pledge to empower and promote their involvement further.
- Additionally, we are committed to exploring the frontier of new technologies in maritime operations. Leveraging innovations will enhance our capabilities, making us more efficient and responsive in safeguarding our maritime spaces.
- Equally vital, we are dedicated to addressing the multifaceted challenges posed by hybrid threats and the strategic significance of submarine infrastructures protection. Our forthcoming activity plan, to be presented next, has been meticulously developed, taking into consideration these critical challenges.
Thank you all for the trust you have placed in Portugal to chair this important forum, being sure that we can count on your contribution to face today's challenges and build a safer and sustainable future for Europe.
VADM Dores Aresta
Maritime Authority General Director and Maritime Police Commander
Coastal Control Unit Commander’s Speech
We are starting a new cycle in the life of this European Coast Guard forum, with the assumption of responsibilities by a new presidency.
The internal and external environment is constantly changing. The variables and difficulties that each presidency assumes are always different. Each moment is a new challenge and it presents itself in a stimulating way.
That is why, with an enormous sense of responsibility and commitment, we embrace this project today, accompanied by our strategic partner, the Portuguese Navy.
It will be a shared presidency - initiated by our Navy and concluded by us in 2024, which we wish to be harmonious and aligned with the objectives of the forum and Europe, always with a sense of state and Europeanism.
Regarding the Portuguese Gendarmerie, and its Border and Coast Guard Functions Unit that I represent, I would like to express our common vision and alignment with this Coast Guard Functions Forum.
We share the same goals and also the same worries, struggling with the same concerns in terms of fisheries control and maritime security, while having a structuring role in the national maritime border control system, accommodating the National Coordination Center regarding migration control and cross-border crime and the national external border surveillance instrument.
We understand the role of the presidency as an instrument to support the forum, and never an objective in itself. Therefore, with humility, we presented our joint program, validated by our agencies, and whose objective is to contribute to increasing the operational product, knowledge and connection between the different members, and thus creating a more supportive, aligned and cohesive Europe.
We would like to thank everyone for the trust given to us and to our work, having this great responsibility of presiding over the European Coast Guard Functions Forum, with our firm commitment to continue the work developed so far, trying not to defraud the expectations.
A word to the European Commission, for the unconditional support provided while preparing the work for this cycle, namely the planning and preparation of the Grand Agreement, a fundamental and decisive document for the success of our presidency.
And also, a fair tribute to the Belgian presidency, former entity presiding over this prestigious forum, whose commitment, dedication, work and results speak for themselves, and we are all proud of.
Thank you to you all.
Major-General Jorge Bolas
Coastal Control Unit Commander