Gulf of Guinea GOG States have called on the International community to work together to ensure that illegal harvested or explored resources within the region are internationally banned.
This was stated by the Director General of Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA, Mr Dakuku Peterside at the just concluded Global Maritime Security Conference held in Abuja.
“Gulf of Guinea States and international community should put mechanism in place to ensure that resources that are illegal harvested or explored in the Gulf of Guinea, including stolen oil and illegal unreported and unregulated fishery are internationally banned as was the case with blood diamonds”
According to Mr Dakuku, the conference also resolved that GOG States should explore the possibility of designated maritime courts to handle cases of sea robbery, piracy and other maritime offences to ensure quick dispensation of cases in addition to capacity building and sensitisation of judiciary on relevant legislation.
“Navies /Coast Guards and Maritime law enforcement agencies in the GOG States should engage in regular joint maritime operations, procedures, training standards and foster inter-operability.
“States of GOG and international partners should give priority attention to training and capacity building for relevant stakeholders involved in the maritime security. Strengthen funding of National, zonal and regional maritime domain awareness to enhance information sharing, and establish repeatable documentable framework for interagency cooperation,” the Maritime boss explained.
Also speaking with journalists at the end of the conference, Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok- Ete Ekwe Ibas alleged that illegal and unregulated fishing activities in the region are part of an organise international crime.
“That’s our suspicion and that is exactly what it is. That’s why forum like this is also to let the international community know that they should also discourage their own people from participating in this kind of illegality and that is why one of the recommendation clearly stated that we should designate it same status as blood diamonds, maybe blood fish or bad fish,” he said.
According to him, Nigeria has made significant effort in the area of surveillance in which the sea can be monitored from any of part of its surveillance centres in Abuja, Lagos and Calabar.
He however explained that that surveillance was only a part of the trinity of actions of which is needed in tackling the problem of illegal fishing activities.
”But after seeing what we can see, the next is to deploy our ships and helicopters to arrest and intercept these suspects . that is one area we are still building on because we don’t have enough ships to dominate the entire waters that we need to police .
“Its a work in progress .more ships are being bought by the government . Some other levels of collaborations even the fishery department is coming on board fully,” Vice Admiral Ibok added.
Vice Admiral Ibok- Ete Ekwe Ibas was represented by the Chief of Policy and Plans, Naval Headquaters, Rear Admiral Begory Ibe_Ewo.