As part of efforts to combat maritime crimes within the sub-region, a 30-day Concentrated Maritime Affairs and Security Course for the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is currently ongoing at the Regional Maritime University (RMU) at Nungua, near Accra.
The course modules include maritime security, functional areas, legal and policy framework, blue economy, maritime crisis, Yaounde architecture, IEO fishing and managing complexities.
The programme, which is the second in the series is being sponsored by the European Union (EU), through its Support to West Africa Integrated Maritime Security (SWAIMS) programme, has 18 participants from the ECOWAS sub-region.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the programme on Monday, the Project Coordinator of SWAIMS, Mr Augustus Addy-Lamptey, explained that the project was expected to train operational level personnel and all other actors to enable them to collaborate effectively to combat maritime crimes such as piracy and armed robbery.
Mr Addy-Lamptey noted that the EU in 2016, launched the SWAIMS programme to ensure that maritime crimes which had socio-political impact on the ECOWAS sub-region were fought through capacity building.
“The ECOWAS sub-region already has an integrated maritime security but in order to make it effective, the EU, having seen that several efforts have been made to combat piracy, armed robbery and other maritime crimes, decided to fund this project to help curb them,” he stated.
“At the end of the day, we expect the participants not to only apply what they have learnt, but also multiply it for people to be educated on maritime crimes which has socio-political impact on our sub-region,” Mr Addy-Lamptey added.
Acting Vice Chancellor of the Regional Maritime University (RMU), Dr Jethro W. Brooks, said maritime crimes such as illegal fishing, piracy, pollution and narcotics/arms trafficking had surged since 2013, despite the ongoing collective fight against the canker.
“Since, 2013, the Gulf of Guinea has emerged as the global focal point for transnational organised maritime crimes including piracy and armed robbery at sea, illegal fishing, pollution, narcotics/arms trafficking and other illicit activities.”
“Despite the ongoing collective fight against maritime crimes, the region continues to record a surge in criminal activities as syndicates continue to build resistance and exploit gaps in the collaborative security development,” Dr Brooks noted.
BY MICHAEL D.ABAYATEYE