A 30-day concentrated maritime affair and security course for the ECOWAS sub-region is underway at the Regional Maritime University at Nungua, near Accra, to train operational level personnel and other actors to combat maritime crimes, including piracy and armed robbery.
The second batch of the training, which is being sponsored by the European Union (EU) through its Support to West Africa Integrated Maritime Security (SWAIMS) programme, has 18 participants from the ECOWAS sub-region.
The workshop is expected to tackle maritime security, functional areas, legal and policy framework, blue economy, maritime crisis, the Yaounde Architecture, and managing complexities.
The Project Coordinator of SWAIMS, Augustus Addy-Lamptey, said the project was expected to enable the participants to collaborate effectively to combat maritime crimes.
The EU launched the SWAIMS programme in 2016 to fight maritime crimes through the building of human resource capacities.
“The ECOWAS sub-region already has an integrated maritime security, but in order to make it effective, the EU, having seen that several efforts have been made to combat piracy, armed robbery and other maritime crimes, decided to fund this project to help curb them,” Mr Addy-Lamptey said at the opening of the workshop.
“At the end of the day, we expect the participants not to only apply what they have learnt, but to multiply it for people to be educated on maritime crimes, which have socio-political impact on our sub-region,” he added.
The acting Vice-Chancellor of the Regional Maritime University, Dr Jethro W. Brooks, said the course was necessary in building capacities and competencies of staff and personnel of maritime-focused agencies and institutions within the West African Region to combat crimes within the Gulf of Guinea.
He said maritime crimes such as illegal fishing, piracy, pollution and narcotics/arms trafficking had surged since 2013 despite the ongoing collective fight against the canker.
“Since 2013, the Gulf of Guinea has emerged as the global focal point for transnational organised maritime crimes, including piracy and armed robbery at sea, illegal fishing, pollution, narcotics/arms trafficking and other illicit activities.
“Despite the ongoing collective fight against maritime crimes, the region continues to record a surge in criminal activities as syndicates continue to build resistance and exploit gaps in the collaborative security development,” Dr Brooks noted.