ASEAN has launched its inaugural ASEAN Maritime Outlook (AMO) at the 13th ASEAN Maritime Forum, held in the Indonesia resort island of Bali on August 1.

This publication is set to be a cornerstone in managing various maritime issues, with a special focus on streamlining processes and mechanisms for better clarity and efficiency.

Acting as a practical guide, the AMO is designed to navigate maritime trends and challenges in the region. By doing so, it aims to consolidate efforts, minimise redundancies and guide the bloc’s actions towards more cohesive maritime cooperation. The AMO will be refreshed triennially, with the first edition released in 2023.

In addition to enhancing maritime cooperation, the AMO is committed to upholding international law norms, such as those embodied in the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. It also aims to promote ASEAN’s values of inclusivity, transparency, mutual respect and trust in various sectors.

Devised to enhance existing international mechanisms and treaties, the AMO is expected to include external perspectives to ensure its comprehensiveness and robustness. It also identifies technical and financial assistance opportunities to boost maritime capabilities within ASEAN member states.

ASEAN secretary-general Kao Kim Hourn emphasised the growing intricacy of issues faced within the ASEAN maritime sphere.

“The challenges that have emerged in ASEAN’s maritime domain have become more complex, multidimensional and interconnected,” he said.

On the other hand, he also underscored the potential of the blue and green economies, viewing them as promising avenues for ASEAN’s growth.

The inaugural edition of the AMO offers valuable insights into ASEAN’s maritime operations, according to Kim Hourn.

“The stocktaking on ASEAN’s work in the maritime domain and the overview of collaboration with external partners, in this inaugural edition of the triennial AMO, provide an invaluable vantage point to identify both the existing and emerging issues,” he said.

Kim Hourn further elaborated that the AMO would enable ASEAN to keep track of and monitor the evolution and development of maritime cooperation.

“At the same time, the publication of the AMO would allow the bloc to identify gaps for further improvement,” he added.

The secretary-general also underlined the significant breadth and depth of maritime cooperation that the AMO documents. He stressed that the seas and oceans in the ASEAN region are indeed peaceful, stable and prosperous.

The AMO, he said, serves as a clarion call for ASEAN and its external partners to tap into the abundant potential of the maritime domain.

The guide also noted that ASEAN member states are origin and destination countries for migrant workers in fishing sectors. Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines and Vietnam were cited as key origin countries for migrant workers, including fishers working on vessels flying the flag of a country other than their own.

The AMO also sheds light on the migration patterns within the fishing sector.

Between March 2020 and March 2021, at least 125,000 fishers from ASEAN member states were employed abroad. These individuals found opportunities within the fishing industries of the broader Indo-Pacific region, including Japan and South Korea.