By Princess Owoh
The Economic Commission of West African ECOWAS, Monday, disclosed that it loses an average of 2 billion dollars annually to theft of maritime resources and illegal fishing.
Head of Cooperation of the European Union delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS Mr. Kurt Cornelis said “in spite of Increased security effort, privacy, armed robbery at sea, illegal fishing, smuggling and trafficking, still pose a major threat to maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea and to the economic development of the region.
Insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea has adverse effect on the health and economic indices of its member state. The region remained the most dangerous in the world for piracy and armed robbery at sea in 2018. This jeopardizes critical maritime route for trade and business and also affects human security, governance and environment.
“In terms of the number of incidents in the Gulf of Guinea in 2017 alone, there were 81 attacks on ships, of which 42 were related to privacy and 39 were armed robberies, while #2 seafarers were kidnapped for ransom”.
Kurt added that the EU is funding the programme Support the West Africa Integrated maritime security SWAIMS; with 29 million Euro through the substantial contribution, the EU is determined to support the Yaounde Maritime architecture and improve maritime security and safety in the Gulf.
“With SWAIMS and its twin project PASSMAR for central Africa, the EU aims to support the implementation of the ECOWAS integrated Maritime strategy through the reinforcement of its regional entities i.e ICC, CRESMAO and the MMCC while supporting capacity building of Law Enforcement Agencies and competent authorities at national levels”. He said.
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Commando Aliyu Gaya, head of the Multinational maritime coordination centre opined “Gulf of Guinea is presently described as one of the most dangerous maritime areas with the Intervention of ECOWAS, our partner we are able to make the region safer the multinational maritime coordination centre; was designed primarily to really coordinate the activities of maritime security agencies in zone E areas of operation as you know.
“Once in a while, we have problems of attack, a shooting attack, and kidnapping, the problem of crude oil theft and other vices that are happening”.
Aliyu added that every day, we are trying to put together a force that will intervene swiftly and really tackle the situation as we have now. We have the zone E that is the zone that is the pilot centre for the ECOWAS region.