Ghana is ready to work together with countries that share the Atlantic space to ensure that the increasing incidence of piracy, oil theft, trafficking and smuggling of drugs, arms, people and unlawful dumping of hazardous waste in the sea is reduced to the barest minimum.
This assurance was given by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Ms Shirley AyorkorBotchwey, at the Ministerial Meeting on strengthening the Atlantic Cooperation in New York.
The US on the sidelines of the 77th UN General Assembly in New York led an initiative of 18 countries including Ghana, Senegal, Britain, Canada, Spain, and Norway, among others, to step up cooperation on the Atlantic Ocean.
Ghana’s Foreign Minister described the initiative as timely and Ghana welcomes the objectives that seek to protect the marine environment and to ensure sustainable exploitation of marine resources.
However, the foreign minister added that, “coastlines and territorial waters are equally fraught with all manner of dangers and insecurity that threaten the peace, stability, progress and prosperity of our Countries.”
She said Ghana, as part of its priorities as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, had promoted multilateral action on the many other challenges that nations in the Atlantic Zone faced.
To her, the increasing incidence of piracy and other criminal activities such as oil theft, trafficking and smuggling of drugs, arms and people, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU), unlawful dumping of hazardous waste in the waters and perpetration of other environmental crimes came at great cost to the people and economies around the world.
Ghana’s top diplomat was upbeat that a Joint Statement by states that form the Atlantic Cooperation will launch a process leading to a structured framework for capitalising on mutually beneficial opportunities for cooperation, including through existing regional, sub-regional and inter-regional mechanisms.
On his part, the US Secretary for Defence, Anthony Blinken, said the US would devote another $100 million next year to the effort in addition to around $400 million already spent each year on maritime initiatives in the Atlantic.
He was hopeful that the additional investment coupled with commitments and cooperation of countries that share the Atlantic would go a long way to preserve the marine ecosystem and enhance lives of people who depended on the ocean.
According to the UN, one in five fish caught in the Atlantic comes from illegal fishing, translating into losses of up to $23 billion per year.
Experts say the countries that border the Atlantic cannot take for granted the free and open maritime trade that employs so many people, the undersea cables that connect the world, the fish stocks and wildlife that sustain the world.
BY TIMES REPORTER