Ghana joined the rest of the world to mark the 2020 World Maritime Day in Accra yesterday with call for sustainable shipping for an ecologically friendly environment.
The World Maritime Day is observed on September 24, every year, to recognise and celebrate the contribution of local and international maritime industries towards the economy, especially shipping.
Speaking on behalf of the Minister for Transport, Kwaku Ofori Asiamah, the Chief Director at the Ministry, Mabel Asi Sagoe, said, the day was an opportunity to raise awareness on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), specifically on SDG 13 and 14.
The SDG 13 calls for taking urgent actions to combat climate change and its impacts, whilst SDG 14 recommends the conservation and sustainability of the use oceans, seas, and marine resources for sustainable development.
Mrs Sagoe charged the Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA) “to take all the necessary measures to enforce the Global Sulphur Cap 2020, in line with the determination of International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to ensure a truly sustainable planet.”
Assuring government’s continued support for GMA; she said since 2017, seven speed boats have been procured for the Authority for its patrol activities to combat pirating in the country’s waters.
Mrs Sagoe said to lessen the impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on the maritime sector, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, during the lockdown, exempted ships carrying essential items, such as food, medicines, fuel, and cargo into the country.
The Director of GMA, Thomas Kofi Alonsi, said having regulatory framework was crucial to sustainable environment that would reduce the impact of climate change through shipping and other maritime activities.
He noted that, as the maritime industry works towards an environmental sustainability, there was the need for enforcement of regulations to effectively implement IMO instruments to minimise air pollution and climate change.
Mr Alonsi said in a bid to ensure environmentally safe practices in the maritime industry, the GMA had procured sulphur kits and other equipment in compliance with Flag State and Port State measures.
He, however, called for a collective approach in the area of technical cooperation and transfer of technology relating to the improvement of energy efficiency of ships, and support from the international community to achieve the 2030 agenda.
Among other things, the agenda 2030 provides a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity, through an integrated and indivisible balance between economic, social and environmental development.
On the global front, the United Nations Secretary General, António Guterres, said COVID-19 had brought unprecedented physical and mental challenges on workers in the maritime sector, especially seafarers.
In his message to mark the day, he noted that, seafarers the world over, have had to spend much longer times at sea, and stay away from families and loved ones, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Against this background, Mr Guterres has called on governments to “address the plight of seafarers and other marine personnel by formally designating them as ‘key workers’, ensuring safe crew changes and implementing the protocols developed by UN agencies.”
BY FRANCIS NTOW