Publié le 07/12/2023
Representation of the maritime transport and communication network: Maritime sector.


France is a seafaring nation. The stability of its national economy, trade, and security are inextricably linked to the maritime character of international trade.

Yet the world’s seas and oceans have always lent themselves to various illegal activities due to their immensity, remoteness, and the freedom of navigation that characterizes their legal regime. The sea offers a wide range of potential targets for terrorism or piracy, including merchant vessels, offshore platforms, and submarine cables, the destruction or disruption of which would inflict colossal physical and economic damage. The deliberate use of the maritime domain to commit harmful, hostile, or illegal acts, including against the maritime transportation system, is now a constant threat.

In 2003, the US developed an “information dominance” strategy that gave rise to Geospatial Intelligence (GEOINT). This discipline enables the collection, processing, and dissemination of geo-referenced and geospatial information via the fusion of multi-layer and multi-sensor data. Since 2007, technological innovations, as well as new regulations resulting from the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention, have gradually increased the amount of usable data, as well as our ability to monitor and control activities at sea, while simultaneously developing the maritime aspects of GEOINT.

Against this backdrop, the US developed the concept of maritime domain awareness (MDA). In the US, MDA is understood as a shared approach to maritime threats and changes therein, incorporating several actors to better facilitate coordination and cooperation between the various organizations responsible for security at sea, at the national and international levels. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) defines MDA as “the effective understanding of anything associated with the maritime domain that could impact security, safety, the economy or the marine environment.”

This briefing calls for France to implement a “national plan” and an interministerial governance structure specifically for MDA. This reform would streamline the existing, scattered framework and contribute to at least three of the strategic functions cited in the 2022 National Strategic Review: prevention, knowledge-appreciation-anticipation, and influence.


This Briefing is also available in French: La « fusion de l’information » : levier de la puissance maritime française ? [1]