The Chiefs of Navies of Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Sierra Leone and Guinea, as well as the Chief of Coast Guard of Liberia and the High Commander of the National Gendarmerie of Burkina Faso signed the MoU in Accra on Thursday.
The MoU would ensure collaboration, coordination and the pooling of resources for collective security and safety of Zone F Maritime Domain.
It would also ensure ECOWAS provides an important response to any sort of threat to maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea and specifically in zone F.
Rear Admiral Seth Amoama, Ghana’s Chief of the Naval Staff, said the Gulf of Guinea maritime domain is increasingly under the international spotlight due to growing illicit trade, illegal fishing, piracy and maritime criminality activities committed by both foreign and nationals.
“The criminality at sea has the potential to undermine efforts at maintaining democratic peace, stability and prosperity of states. For the countries in the Maritime Zone F and the Gulf of Guinea, the security of the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) is of paramount importance to develop and guarantee the sustainability of their ‘Blue Economy’, which touches upon different sectors including fisheries, tourism, transport, trade, offshore exploitation and many others,” he said.
Rear Admiral Amoama said the pirates and other criminals have become increasingly sophisticated and continued to maintain the intent and capacity to exploit security gaps across national maritime borders. He said the Zone F maritime domain just like the other maritime spaces in the Gulf of Guinea has recorded criminal activities such as illegal fishing, illegal sale fuel at sea, piracy and armed robbery at Sea.
“Consequently, there has been a gradual decrease and erosion of the confidence of the maritime industry especially the shipping community in the ability of various coastal to provide durable maritime security conducive for legitimate trade and related activities at sea. With this MoU, ECOWAS Maritime Zone F intends to provide another layer of decisive response to the growing threat to maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea and specifically in zone F,” he added.
He said the MoU describes the operational framework for collaborative and collective states actions through joint patrols and operations to secure and preserve the maritime domain.
He said among the six countries, the Multinational Maritime Coordination Centres (MMCC) Zone F would also be able to coordinate joint maritime patrols and enhance maritime safety and security in the region.
The MOU would also provide for ship riders which mean personnel of the member states embarking in each other vessel/aircraft in order to better exercise jurisdiction at sea.
Rear Admiral Amoama said MMCC Zone F has already demonstrated its ability to play this role effectively through some significant contributions it made since it commenced operations in March 2018.
“It is worthy to note that in December, 2018, the MMCC Zone F coordinated operations between Ghana and Cote d’ Ivoire leading the arrest some vessels engage in the illegal sale of fuel along the common maritime border.
Similarly, the regular provision of maritime situational updates by the Centre has also contributed to improving the response to maritime incidents at sea over the period. From today, the MMCC Zone would become the secretariat and the focal point for the planning and conduct of the joint and combined maritime operations,” he said.