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20.03.2006 General News

Ghana to support efforts to improve maritime security


Accra, March 20, GNA - Defence Minister Dr Kwame Addo-Kufuor on Monday emphasized Ghana's resolve to support any efforts aimed at improving maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea in view of the effects such an initiative would have on human trafficking, poaching, terrorism, arms and drug trafficking.

He has thus called on the US Government to support measures adopted by the Ghana Navy to upgrade its present fleet of ships to improve its operational capacity in the plan to secure the Gulf of Guinea. Dr Addo-Kufuor said this when Admiral Henry Ulrich, Commander of the US Naval Forces in Europe, called on him at his office at Burma Camp in Accra.

Admiral Ulrich, who is also the Commander of Allied Joint Force Command in Europe, is in the country to address the Gulf of Guinea Maritime Safety and Security Workshop, which has opened in Accra. The conference, being organized and sponsored by the US-based African Centre for Strategic Studies and the US European Command, brings together stakeholders from 11 Gulf of Guinea countries to brainstorm on the challenges confronting the security of the Gulf of Guinea and to suggest ways to curb them.

Dr Addo-Kufuor said he was happy the US was showing interest in solving the security problems in the Gulf of Guinea and said it could do more by offering training programmes to Ghanaian naval personnel to handle the issue.

Admiral Ulrich expressed his appreciation to Ghana for hosting the workshop, which he said, was important to the Region's maritime safety and security.

He said he was optimistic that there would be progress in the rehabilitation of the Ghanaian naval ships, as some spares for repairs and refitting had been dispatched from the US for Ghana. "We will work with diligence to develop the capability of Ghana's Navy to protect its stretch of the Gulf of Guinea," he said. Admiral Ulrich was in Ghana two months ago. After consultations with the Ministry of Defence, he promised to get the US government to provide assistance to the Ghana Navy to refit and upgrade its fleet.

Accra, March 20, GNA - Professor Christopher Ameyaw-Akumfi, Minister of Harbours and Railways has tasked implementers of international maritime conventions, to translate and make such agreements applicable to the realities of respective countries for easy adoption.

Opening a four-day regional training workshop on Flag State Implementation and Port State Control at the Regional Coordinating Unit at the Guinea Current Large Marine Ecosystem (GCLME) in Accra, the Minister said it was only through such pragmatic approaches that most international conventions could be easily implemented.

He said as a contracting party to the United Nations Conventions on the Laws of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) conventions, it was never the intention of government to renege when it came to their implementation.

Professor Ameyaw-Akumfi said to this end, the Ghana Maritime Authority had already initiated action towards the effective fulfilment of Ghana's obligations under most of the international maritime instruments she had ratified.

He said for example, work on the preparation of about 27 subsidiary legislations required for the implementation of the Ghana Shipping Act 2003, Act 645 had been completed and would in due course be submitted to Parliament for approval.

Professor Ameyaw-Akumfi said in addition, Ghana apart from depositing an instrument of acceptance on the West and Central Africa Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control (Commonly Called the Abuja MOU), hosted the fourth Regional Meeting of the MOU aimed at promoting regional cooperation for its early implementation last September.

"As you may be aware, the purpose of Port State Control is to inspect ships calling at the country's sea ports to check the flow of sub-standard vessels into our territorial waters and others in the sub-region.

"It is envisaged that very the Ghana Ports Authority will soon establish port state control units at the two commercial seaports for this purpose after work on its operation is completed". Professor Ameyaw-Akumfi said the workshop was of utmost importance to countries in the sub region as it had come at a time when marine and coastal resources were under threat from anthropogenic factors including industrial, agricultural, urban and domestic sewage disposal and mining activities such as gas exploration.

He was optimistic that the GCLME workshop would formulate answers to problems like the uncertainty in the ecosystem and the deterioration of water quality including loss of habitat, which had all been identified as significant trans-boundary environmental problems in the region.

Professor Ameyaw-Akumfi said the objectives of the seminar, which included taking participants through Maritime Safety Administration and implementation of various IMO Conventions was of great importance to his ministry.

He welcomed the implementation on pilot basis of the first phase of the Gulf of Guinea Large Marine Ecosystem involving Ghana, Togo, Benin, Cameroon, Cote D'Ivoire and Nigeria on "Water Pollution Control and Biodiversity conservation in the Gulf of Guinea Region".

In an address Mr Fernando Plaza Montero of the IMO urged participants not to make the workshop just a talk-shop where policies were made but never implemented.

He said the IMO was very much concerned with the implementation of most of its conventions, which were aimed at reducing poverty. Welcoming the delegates, Professor Chidi Ibe, Regional Director the GCLME, urged the delegates to see whatever would transpire in the weeklong seminar as an important excise that could breathe life into marine life in the sub region.

Present at the workshop were delegates from all the six counties that come under GCLME as well as those from South Africa and Sao Tome.