The Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC) participated in the ECOWAS Stakeholder’s Meeting on Maritime Security and Safety in Accra, Ghana, 5-7th September 2023.
Participants in the meeting represented the ECOWAS Commission, ECOWAS Multinational Maritime Coordination Centres (MMCCs) in Benin Republic, Ghana, Cabo Verde, the West African Regional Maritime Security Centre (CRESMAO) in Cote d’Ivoire, and ECOWAS member states as well as mid- and high-level government officials, military personnel, civilians with marine expertise, and representatives from relevant ministries such as Foreign Affairs, Defence, and Transport.
The main objective of the meeting was to strengthen coordination and collaboration among maritime stakeholders to fully operationalize the ECOWAS Maritime Security Architecture and combat illicit maritime activities in the ECOWAS Region.
Member States have acknowledged the challenges facing their maritime domain and have made substantial progress since the adoption of the ECOWAS Integrated Maritime Strategy (EIMS) in 2014. The operationalization of Maritime Security Centres (MSCs) in the ECOWAS Maritime Domain has led to a notable decrease in piracy and sea robbery incidents, from a peak of 68 attacks in 2018 to 15 in 2022.
The positive trend is attributed to collaboration and coordination among national maritime authorities, Maritime Operations Centres (MOCs), and the MSCs. To wit, the FCWC has chalked a significant achievement in this regard via its coordination of a joint fishery surveillance patrol between Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana in July 2023.
The meeting was held to explore ways to foster continued cooperation and build upon these achievements. Specific objectives of the meeting included reporting on past recommendations, presenting the ECOWAS Integrated Maritime Strategy and Action Plan, summarizing Joint Maritime Operation Exercises, assessing the status of ECOWAS Maritime Centres, providing updates on personnel deployment, and sharing country-specific presentations on maritime security.
Key outcomes of the meeting include recommendations to organize a dedicated session on IUU fishing; establish a committee to study the status of the maritime centres (personnel, funding and organograms); finalize the draft of the regional strategy for the blue economy; and to further promote the EIMS and the 2016 Action Plan to promote ownership and implementation by Member States.