The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, has expressed concern about the excessive illicit activities and insecurities in the maritime domain especially at the Gulf of Guinea. She noted that such activities undermine economic potentials.
She observed that for over a decade, piracy and other maritime crimes such as Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing have been on the rise and are posing serious threats to the safety and security of shipping.
The Minister therefore welcomed initiatives by international partners such as the European Union’s (EU) Coordinated Maritime Presence (CMP) to support Gulf of Guinea countries in their efforts to safeguard the safety and security of the maritime area.
It is in this direction that Ms Botchwey has made known Ghana’s active engagement in regional efforts to ensure maritime security through the Multinational Maritime Coordination Centre (MMCC); aimed at developing a regional framework to counter piracy and armed robbery at sea.
“The MMCC Zone F, within which Ghana falls, undertakes activities such as the monitoring of ports, fishing activities, oil and gas exploration and critical maritime installations (such as the West African Gas Pipeline). That zone conducts profiling of vessels of interest and vessels vulnerable to attack, and shares information with stakeholders and partners at the national, regional and international levels,” she explained.
The Foreign Affairs Minister made these statements when she met with the EU Ambassador to Ghana and other EU Heads of Mission accredited to Ghana, to discuss the Union’s CMP as well as other efforts by European countries to eradicate maritime insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea.
Call for respect
Ms Botchwey underscored the need for international partners patrolling the territorial waters of Gulf of Guinea Member States to do so with utmost respect for their sovereignty and territorial integrity.
She requested the EU’s provision of a document on the detailed implementation strategy of the CMP for Ghana’s information.
Subsequently, Ms Botchwey touched on the existence of regional and sub-regional frameworks in place at the level of the African Union (AU) and Regional Economic Communities (RECs) to tackle maritime insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea.
She therefore urged the EU and European countries to help in strengthening them to be more efficient.
The Minister also underscored the need to hold broad consultations with key Ghanaian stakeholders in maritime security such as the Ghana Navy and Ghana Maritime Authority to receive more technical and informed inputs specific to Ghana’s maritime security needs.
Also, she urged the EU to coordinate with Gulf of Guinea countries within the ambit of regional/multilateral organizations such as the Gulf of Guinea Commission (GGC), ECOWAS and ECCAS.