The country’s offshore oil and gas installations are under threat due to the unregulated fishing activities around those facilities, director general of the Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA), Peter Issaka Azuma has said.
Fishermen, according to him, ignored safely warnings and continued to fish close to offshore oil and gas extracting enclaves.
Speaking in Accra yesterday at the opening of a two-day ‘Table-top’ exercise on maritime safety in Ghana’s maritime domain, he called for collaboration among government departments and agencies to combat the menace.
It is being organized by the GMA in collaboration with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) under the auspices of the Ministry of Transport.
It is being attended by security officers from the Ghana Navy, Immigration Service, Police, National Security, Ministry of Defense, and Ministry for the Interior, the Ghana Ports and Harbors Authority and maritime security experts from the IMO.
The exercise is aimed at developing strategies to promote maritime safety in the country’s territorial waters and also focus on contingency planning and inter-agency co-operation and identify gaps, best practices ,procedures and mitigating strategies for action to improve security in the country’s maritime jurisdiction.
Mr. Azuma lamented that the country’s maritime and fishing industries as well as marine resources were also under danger due to the growing piracy, armed robbery and illegal and unregulated fishing.
“Ghana as a coastal state is dependent on shipping and marine economic resources for its economic growth, therefore any act that threatens the development o her offshore economic resource must be halted” he said.
Mr. Azuma said International Maritime Board indicated that shipping and offshore operations in the sub-region were being carried out under insecure conditions in the Gulf of Guinea which imposed the need to adopt preventive measures to ensure that maritime economic activities were conducted in a safe and secure environment.
“As such, the security measures for the protection of the sub-region’s marine resources and offshore operations must be identified and implemented in a collective manner in order to suppress all forms of unlawful acts at sea “ he said.
Mr. Azuma said it was in that light that the GMA was collaborating with the IMO to organize the two-day exercise to, among other things ,develop local and possibly, regional capabilities to implement and enforce maritime safety and security measures.
He said the exercise, which was complementary to other workshops and conferences that had been organized by the GMA and the IMO with respect to increasing maritime domain awareness in the Gulf of Guinea, was designed to examine a range of scenarios to determine the respective role, responsibilities, processes and procedures for combat purposes.
Mr. Azuma urged the participants to actively participate in the programs and also bring their experience to bear on issues to be discussed.