Jakarta (ANTARA) - The straits of Malacca and Singapore have an important role since they connect the Indian Ocean and South China Sea and are narrow shipping lanes congested with traffic, according to the Transportation Ministry.

"Therefore, we are concerned about the safety of shipping navigation and its impact on the marine environment in these two straits," the ministry's secretary general, Novie Riyanto, said, according to a statement released on Thursday.

He delivered the remarks while opening the ASEAN Hydrographic Survey Workshop, which was attended by the Ambassador of the Mission of Japan to ASEAN, the deputy secretary general for ASEAN Economic Community, the ASEAN Secretariat, ASEAN member countries, as well as international organizations and stakeholders with an interest in the Malacca and Singapore straits.

As part of an effort to overcome these concerns, three coastal countries, namely Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore, have collaborated to improve shipping safety and protect the marine environment from the negative impacts of shipping activities, Riyanto noted.

The 2023 ASEAN Hydrographic Survey is the final process under a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed by the Japanese government and the three coastal countries in 2017. Under the MoU, they have agreed to collaborate in carrying out hydrographic surveys along the Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS) of the Malacca Strait and the Singapore Strait with funding sourced from the Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF).

According to Riyanto, the main focus of this activity is to socialize the latest version of the electronic nautical chart of the Malacca and Singapore straits.

The latest version, which was developed by the three coastal countries with Japan's support, provides important information about deep waters, the position of shipwrecks, coral reefs, and rocks in the waters, he informed.

"The information will be very useful for ships sailing through the Malacca Strait and Singapore Strait and also contribute to maritime safety," he said.

Meanwhile, acting director general of sea transportation and head of the Indonesian delegation at the workshop, Captain Antoni Arif Priadi, also emphasized the importance of the Malacca and Singapore straits as strategic shipping lanes in the world.

He said that the traffic volume, length, and geographical characteristics of the two straits are becoming challenges for the three coastal countries in ensuring the implementation of shipping safety and environmental protection.

"For this reason, the three coastal countries, together with the Malacca Straits Council of Japan, have initiated the Joint Hydrographic Survey project to improve shipping safety in the region," he added.

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Translator: Ahmad Wijaya, Resinta S
Editor: Azis Kurmala
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