Customs incept special section to surveil maritime area using drones

A boat traveling off Male' City. (Sun Photo/Mohamed Afraah)

Maldives Customs has incepted a special section under the name ‘Maritime Surveillance and Border Protection Section’ to strengthen the surveillance of maritime areas and vessels under the authority’s control while intensifying efforts to combat the traffic of drugs into the Maldives and other border-related crimes.

Customs said the section will be operated under the Directorate of Enforcement and Border Security.

They also noted efforts are underway to design a new logo and uniform in addition to acquiring vessels and other resources required for the operations of the section.

The mandates of the newly incepted section are as follows:

  • Conducting operations to combat drug trafficking and other items banned by Maldivian laws
  • Monitoring maritime areas and vessels under Customs’ control using resources such as surveillance drones
  • Conducting operations in collaboration with MNDF’s Coastguard as part of enforcing the responsibilities of Customs with respect to Maldives’ maritime area.

Vessels have already been acquired and training programs have been conducted to launch the works of Custom’s Maritime Surveillance and Border Protection Section.

  • A vessel bought two years earlier to patrol Customs’ areas
  • Two 30-foot patrol vessels from the Japanese government (they will arrive in the Maldives in May)
  • An 85-foot patrol vessel provided by Japanese government as grant assistance (the vessel will arrive in the Maldives in the first quarter of 2025)

Customs, citing a training program was held in the Maldives on patrolling using this vessel early last month, states an additional training program will be held in Japan in May regarding patrolling using this vessel which will be attended by eight officers from the authority.

They also noted that discussions have been held with the Chinese Embassy in the Maldives and the United States’ Expedited Country and Related Border Security (EXBS) to acquire vessels and other resources for the new section, adding the parties have agreed to assist in this trajectory.

Customs further said it has been decided to form a special force for the operations of the new section – while ensuring officers on the force would have completed training related to maritime enforcement and is well-versed in working with modern resources and equipment.

In this regard, they said discussions have been held with MNDF regarding training members of the force undertaking maritime enforcement.


One of the main mandates of Customs is to eliminate the import and export of items prohibited by Maldivian laws. The authority reported that it is continuously conducting maritime operations as part of these efforts while also committing to acquiring vessels and equipment for these efforts.