Durban: 13 November 2018
The virtual elimination of piracy along eastern oceans of the African continent over the last few years – thanks to a concerted highly collaborative international effort – is no reason for the continent to relax.
Other serious crimes involving and affecting international shipping and impacting global trade remain a constant threat and present danger, delegates to a three day International Maritime Organization (IMO) workshop in Durban, South Africa heard on Monday.
Mr William Azuh, head of the Africa section of the IMO’s technical cooperation division, told dozens of delegates from countries many of which are signatories to the Djibouti Code of Conduct (DCoC) that while collaborating actions to deter piracy had largely been successful: “Make no mistake about this, the pirates are not done yet.”
Mr Azuh was speaking during the first of a scheduled three day IMO workshop for countries in Africa that are members of the IMO’s anti-piracy Djibouti Code of Conduct and its revised version, 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 regions.
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, 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.”
The three day workshop in Durban that began Monday morning is the first of its kind for the Africa region aimed at finding agreement and drawing up action plans for establishment of national and regional maritime information sharing centres for improved maritime domain awareness.
Maritime domain awareness (MDA) is described as constituting three aspects; situational awareness, threat awareness and response awareness. For effectiveness to the benefit of a wider community, MDA needs to exist at national (country), regional (continental) and international level.
In Durban on Monday, Mr Azuh said the vastness of the global maritime domain was such that no region or country in Africa or elsewhere was totally safe and crucially, no region of the world could act alone in efforts to combat crimes at sea that impact global shipping and trade.
“Without the understanding and effective management of the maritime sphere, we all labour in vain,” he said, adding that maintaining the success achieved to date against piracy in a sustainable manner, was dependent on meticulous implementation of IMO guidance and best management practices.
For Mr Azuh’s full remarks click on video below.
Mr Azuh’s remarks were shared by Mr Sobantu Tilayi, Chief Operations Officer of SAMSA who on behalf of the South African government under the auspices of the Department of Transport, welcomed the delegates to the country.
Mr Tilayi said it was significant that South Africa was hosting the event relevant to its role in both regional and international maritime matters and precisely those include ensuring safety of people and property at sea.
He said ever evolving advances in communication technology were among tools that needed to brought into the fray towards strengthening safety and security of shipping and South Africa has quite a contribution to make in this regard. He enumerated the Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth as among research institutions in the country that were making a significant contribution.
For Mr Tilayi’s full remarks, Click on the video below:
The issue of maritime sector shipping safety and security was a concern not only of countries with direct access to the oceans, according to Mr Timothy Walker, senior researcher at the Institute of Security Studies in Pretoria.
Speaking on “Making Safer Seas for Africa” said piracy at sea and armed robbery of ships had a direct and immediate impact on global trade which involved all countries of the world.
But also, he said, inland waters across countries in Africa were not excluded as there vast areas of these waters that were used for shipping and therefore remained attractive to criminals.
For the reason, cooperation to improve security of the marine domain was of equal economic benefit to everyone hence the need for awareness needed to be fully inclusive of interested and affected parties.
Mr Walker’s full remarks:
Meanwhile, after a full first day of deliberations, workshop coordinator, Mr Jon Huggins expressed satisfaction with both the intensity and focus of the deliberations, expressing hope that by day three on Wednesday, there would be clarity on a plan of action forward.
For Mr Huggins’ full remarks, click on the video below.