Ghana is actively engaged in regional efforts to ensure maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea (GOG), the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, has said.
She said the country was doing so through the Multi-national Maritime Coordination Centre (MMCC) established by ECOWAS with the aim of developing a regional framework to counter piracy and armed robbery at sea.
She stated these on Wednesday when she hosted the Head of the European Union (EU) delegation to Ghana and other Heads of Mission of EU Member States accredited to Ghana on maritime security along the GoG.
The meeting was to discuss the EU’s Coordinated Maritime Presence (CMP) as well as other efforts by European countries to eradicate maritime insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea.
Ms Botchwey said 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 including the West African Gas Pipeline.
Zone F, she said, conducted profiling of vessels of interest and vessels vulnerable to attack, and shared information with stakeholders and partners at the national, regional and international levels.
She, therefore, welcomed initiatives by international partners such as the EU’s CMP to support Gulf of Guinea countries in their efforts to safeguard the safety and security of the maritime area.
According to her, the GoG connected maritime traffic of multiple continents with its export and import potential, making it an indispensable part of global trade particularly with the discovery of offshore hydrocarbon deposits.
Ms Botchwey described as worrying that the blue economy potential of the GoG was being undermined by a plethora of illicit activities and insecurities in the maritime domain and observed further 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,” She said.
Ms Botchwey urged the EU and European countries to help in strengthening regional and sub-regional frameworks in place to enable them be more efficient in tackling maritime insecurity.
She called on them 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.
She emphasised the need for international partners patrolling the territorial waters of GoG Member States to do so with utmost respect for their sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Ms Botchwey expressed gratitude to the delegation for the meeting and voiced the hope that the CMP initiative would be successful in stemming the tide of maritime insecurity in the GoG to enhance its blue economy potential and improve the socio-economic conditions of the relevant local communities.
The Head of the EU delegation to Ghana, Diana Acconcia, said the GoG had been selected for the pilot project due to the critical role it played in the blue economy and gave the assurance that all efforts would be made to safeguard it.
BY JONATHAN DONKOR