The Préfet Maritime is a servant of the French State who exercises authority over the sea in one particular region (a Préfecture maritime). As a civil servant, he reports to the Prime Minister. But the Maritime Prefect is simultaneously charged of military operations, and for this reason also reports to the chief of the general staff (CEMA, or Chef d'état-major des armées).
The dignity was created in 1800 to unify the command of harbours (civil administrator) and the command of the Navy (Admiral).
The préfet maritime is in charge of the French sovereignty at sea, monitoring operation, safety of the users, police and rescue operations, etc. He also commands all armed vessel linked to his place.