There are about 620,000 kilometres (372,000 miles) of coastline worldwide. One hundred and eighty two independent countries and thirteen dependencies have a coastline. Many of the world’s major cities are also coastal ports.
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Those coasts are connected to around 165 major rivers and many thousands of smaller rivers, giving access to hundreds of thousands of square kilometres of internal national territory.
The main transport mode for global trade is ocean shipping, with around 90% of traded goods transported by ship and 61% of global crude oil and petroleum products transported by sea.
But still much of the world’s coastlines and rivers are remote, rugged and inaccessible.
The difficulty of securing coastline is also an opportunity for all sorts of bad actors, such as drug and people traffickers, terrorists, smugglers and even pirates.
These bad actors are able to utilise freighters, speed boats, jet skis, submersibles, semi-submersibles, underwater unmanned vehicles, planes, microlights and drones.
Given the importance of ocean trade as well as length and difficulty of securing much of our coastline, managing maritime borders is one of the greatest challenges facing national governments.
So, what are the real challenges and threats and what can be done to better secure our coastlines and river systems?