Durban: 12 November 2018
Strengthening of safety and security of global shipping against all forms of criminal activity at sea through close collaboration and information sharing among maritime states comes under focus in South Africa this week at a gathering in Durban led by the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
The IMO workshop in Durban over three days from Monday 12 November 2018, and attended by about 60 delegates from the Gulf of Aden and West Indian Ocean region some of whom are member States, including South Africa, will focus on specifically identified requirements to enhance the implementation of the Djibouti Code of Conduct (DCoC) and its revised version known as the ‘Jeddah Amendment to the Djibouti Code of Conduct 2017’.
According to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), hosts of the workshop along with the Department of Transport (DoT), the DCoC is a regional counter piracy programme with the main objective of repressing piracy and armed robbery against ships in the Gulf of Aden and West Indian Ocean region.
However, the revised version – the ‘Jeddah Amendment to the Djibouti Code of Conduct 2017’ has since expanded the scope of the DCoC to include all acts of criminality in the maritime environment, including illicit maritime activities such as human trafficking and illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
According to the IMO in a statement on its website, the Jeddah Amendment “recognizes the important role of the “blue economy” including shipping, seafaring, fisheries and tourism in supporting sustainable economic growth, food security, employment, prosperity and stability.
“But it expresses deep concern about crimes of piracy, armed robbery against ships and other illicit maritime activity, including fisheries crime, in the Western Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden. Such acts present grave dangers to the safety and security of persons and ships at sea and to the protection of the marine environment.
Crucially, says the IMO; “The Jeddah Amendment calls on the signatory States to cooperate to the fullest possible extent to repress transnational organized crime in the maritime domain, maritime terrorism, illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing and other illegal activities at sea”.
“This will include information sharing; interdicting ships and/or aircraft suspected of engaging in such crimes; ensuring that any persons committing or intending to commit such illicit activity are apprehended and prosecuted; and facilitating proper care, treatment, and repatriation for seafarers, fishermen, other shipboard personnel and passengers involved as victims.”
According to the IMO, of 17 eligible countries to sign the DCoC and its revised version, several are now signatories. These include the Comoros, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Jordan, Madagascar, Maldives, Mozambique, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania and Yemen, Kenya and Somalia.
Ahead of Monday’s start of the three days IMO workshop, SAMSA said delegates will focus on aspects including the promotion of national and regional plans to achieve Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) and plans to enhance the DCoC information network to meet the objectives of the Jeddah Amendment to DCoC 2017.
“This includes agreeing on a common action plan for establishment of National Maritime Information Sharing Centres in each of the participating States, strengthening of existing DCoC information sharing centres and options to create synergy with the newly established Regional Maritime Information Fusion Centre (RMIFC) in Madagascar and the Regional Maritime Operational Coordination Centre (RMOCC) in Seychelles.
“The workshop will also discuss the development of common Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and incident reporting formats to promote interoperability and a regional strategy for information sharing to achieve MDA,” said SAMSA.
SAMSA Chief Operations Officer, Sobantu Tilayi added: “On behalf of SAMSA, Department of Transport and Government of the Republic of South Africa, i would like to take this opportunity to thank the International Maritime Organisation for having requested South Africa to host this important workshop on Regional Information Sharing within the Djibouti Code of Conduct (Jeddah amendment) family.
“It is indeed an honour and a privilege for South Africa to host this workshop here in Durban – our coastal city and home of the biggest port in Africa. SAMSA and DoT, on behalf of Government, are hopeful that South Africa will host a successful IMO DCoC Regional Information Sharing Workshop.”