Maritime stakeholders have agreed to put deliberate policies in place, to ensure that there is no market for stolen oil and illegal fishing from the Gulf of Guinea.
The stakeholders from the just concluded Global Maritime Security Conference, agreed to treat as ‘blood diamonds’ resources illegally explored from the Gulf of Guinea Region in the global market.
Speaking at the International Press Conference after the three days GMSC, the Director General Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dakuku Peterside, noted that there were already established international frameworks for which stolen resources are treated as ‘blood diamonds’.
Commenting on the Communique from the conference, he said that stakeholders resolved, that Gulf of Guinea States and the international community should put mechanisms in place to ensure that resources that are illegally harvested/explored in the GoGs including stolen oil and Illegal Unreported and Unregulated Fishery, are intentionally banned as was the case with the “blood diamonds”.
According to him, “We want international communities to apply those frameworks to stolen crude, stolen fish taken from our waters illegally and in an unregulated manner. There is also the Port State agreement, which of course, treats illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing like “blood diamonds,”
For his part, the chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas, alluded to the fact that there has been an international conspiracy against GoG, adding that illegal fishing in African waters is an internationally organised crime.
Ibas, who was represented by the Chief of Policy and Plans, Naval headquarters, Rear Admiral Begroy Ibe-Enwo, said there were recommendations in the Communique from the Conference, which was aimed at ensuring that the international communities discourage their people from participating in illegal activities.
Speaking on the patrol efforts of the Nigerian Navy, he stated that the Navy has a trinity of action and the first leg of that action is surveillance, which revolves around Maritime Domain Awareness(MDA).
He further said that for countries in the region to improve their maritime domain awareness, there is a need for platforms like ships and helicopters to be used in patrolling the waterways, so as to have a complete view of all the activities on the high sea.
According to him, “It will interest you to know that the navy is able to see what is going on out there at sea around Lagos and Calabar and other shore centres. After seeing what is going on at sea, what is the next thing? You need to deploy your platforms to arrest or interdict these suspects.
He stated also that the Nigerian Navy is still building capacity in the area of prosecution, as there isn’t enough ships to patrol the entire waters that need to be policed, adding that more ships were being bought by the government in addition to some other levels of collaborations.
“Even a fishery department is coming on board fully now. Two ships are going to join us very soon and they will be dedicated to anti-fishing operations,” stated.
Furthermore, the stakeholders in the Communique resolved that the GoG States should explore the possibility of establishing maritime courts to handle cases of sea robbery, piracy and other maritime offences, so as to ensure quick dispensation of cases in addition to capacity building and sensitisation of judiciary on crucial relevant legislation.