Naval Forces of countries along the Gulf of Guinea cannot maintain maritime security alone without cooperation and collaboration from relevant stakeholders, Rear Admiral Seth Amoama, Chief of the Naval Staff has said.
Rear Admiral Amoama observed that every area of maritime security has its dimensions that required cooperation and collaboration with relevant actors to drive up issues such as environmental protection, sustainable fishing and over-exploitation of other resources in the sea.
According to him, even the issue of arrest of criminals required additional skills such as protection of suspects’ rights, preservation of evidence and prevention of tax evasion.
“These are specialized skills that continue to draw naval forces closer to other professionals in pursuit of maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea.
Ghana understands these dynamics to maritime security and remains open to new ideas.”
The Chief of Naval Staff was speaking at the opening of a three day International Forum on the Implementation of the Yaoundé Protocol at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Center (KAIPTC) in Accra.
The forum brought together senior Naval Officers, Professionals from diversified backgrounds.
The participants seek to discuss and offer support for research, training of maritime security practitioners and actors to establish a platform for dialogue among international and national actors.
The participants would also delve into areas such as “Strengthening bilateral and multilateral cooperation on maritime crime related arrests in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG)” “enhancing dialogue and capacity development towards a safer Maritime Domain in Africa” among others.
Rear Admiral Amoama commended the Danish government for funding meeting and told the participants that Ghana remained committed to initiatives to be bore out of their deliberations.
Major General Francis Ofori, Commandant of KAIPTC said the gulf of Guinea is the hub of extensive transatlantic commerce connecting the western part of Africa with the rest of the world.
“Undoubtedly, this maritime domain is a significant source of economic life, but it also present serious security challenge for the 26 countries concerned”.
The Commandant of KAIPTC said maritime threats are common phenomenon especially in the region.
According to him, reports from the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and other international and regional agencies often identify issues such as attacks on sea- based transportation equipment, networks and cargoes.
These attacks, he said resulted in seizure of high valued content, demand for ransom, traffic in prohibited commodities such as cocaine and engagement in unsustainable extraction of resources.
Additionally, he observed that while countries continue to grapple with security within maritime domain, pirates and transnational criminal gang continue to wreak havoc in the area.
“A number of Maritime- related mechanisms were emerging with separate structural requirements that put pressure on Gulf of Guinea countries in their effort to determine comprehensive response to the threats domain while remaining compliant to the protocols they have signed up to.”
It is time to guide how countries can respond to the multiple international maritime initiatives and still remain effective,” he said.
Major General Ofori said there was the need to look into the evolution of the Yaoundé code of conduct structures which include financing, staffing and inter- relationships and agree on how much time those structures required to evolve and become fully operational.
“The pressure for infant structures to perform is quite intense but how do we ensure that our successes are sustainable and reflects the reality”, he asked.
He said although the KAIPTC has already trained over 300 African Maritime Safety and security practitioners over the years, the centre was scaling up its efforts by joining up with some partners to design and implement related maritime security projects.
Tove Degnbol, Ambassador, Royal Danish Embassy in Ghana said Denmark is a prominent maritime nation with seafaring traditions.
“For Danish shipping exports, Ghana, Nigeria and Côte d’ Ivoire are major markets”.
Madam Degnbol commended Nigeria for passing a bill on the ‘ Suppression of piracy and other Maritime offences Bills’ adding that, it represented an important legal step against piracy.