The Western Indian Ocean and the Horn of Africa waters are now largely safe from piracy, giving a huge boost to the blue economy prospects.
A two-day maritime and security meeting held in Mombasa heard that the region has not experienced piracy attacks for the past several years due to concerted efforts under the Djibouti Code of Conduct (DCOC).
The meeting lauded enhanced security on the Western Indian Ocean and the Horn of Africa waters, saying this has been achieved through collaboration among states in the region.
Despite successful anti-piracy strategies, the forum was told that terrorism is still a major threat posing challenges to the blue economy plans.
To counter terrorism more effectively and boost sea trade, the players called for stronger commitment and collaboration among regional states and partners through information sharing.
“More than 90 percent of world trade by volume is transported through the sea. It is through safe and secure seas that trade will grow and prosper,” said Kenya’s Defense Cabinet Secretary Raychelle Omamo.
“All our countries have obligations under the global UN sustainable developments goals and benefits from the blue economy cannot be actualised in an environment of insecurity, pollution, piracy, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and other illicit maritime activities.”
Ms Omamo urged the member states to collaborate more in tackling “emerging issues and threats in the sea”.
“I have observed directly the benefits that have accrued from the DCOC framework especially pertaining to the near eradication of piracy. The member states should leverage on cross-border and cross-sector collaboration in support of an integrated maritime security approach to ensure success in information sharing within the expanded scope of maritime crime,” said the CS.
“I am satisfied in the progress achieved within member states in ensuring enhanced maritime domain awareness through government approach and multi-agency collaboration.”
Kenya, the CS noted, is committed to meeting the DCOC framework expectation.
“We look forward to seeing the complete implementation of the Jeddah Amendments. A key decision includes a well-established framework that should allow for organised dialogue and decision making that will enable the region progress its maritime security agenda,” CS Omamo said while addressing the high level DCOC Regional National Focal Point meeting and donor forum at Pride Inn Paradise Beach Resort and Spa in Mombasa.
The maritime players agreed that concerted efforts executed under DCOC has made the Western Indian Ocean and the Horn of Africa waters safer for trade. They, however, called for caution in the celebration of the security achievements.
“The waters have not experienced piracy attacks for the past several years thanks to the concerted efforts harnessed under DCOC. The near eradication of piracy should be celebrated, but with much caution, as we combine efforts to address the law enforcement challenges captured in the Jeddah amendments,” said the Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA) director general Major (Rtd) George Nyamoko Okongo.
The stakeholders also lauded International Maritime Organisation (IMO) for its unrelenting support in strengthening national and regional capacity in sea security and law enforcement.
“Enhanced inter-agency cooperation at the national level and stronger regional cooperation will improve maritime security and law enforcement,”Mr Okongo added.
The DCOC that has been instrumental in repressing piracy and armed robbery against ships in the Western Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden has seen its scope significantly broadened to cover other illicit maritime activities, including human trafficking and illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
A high-level meeting of signatories to the DCOC, held in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in January 2017 adopted a revised Code of Conduct, the “Jeddah Amendment to the Djibouti Code of Conduct 2017”.
The participatory States agreed to work together, with support from IMO and other stakeholders, to build national and regional capacity to address maritime security issues, as a basis for sustainable development of the maritime sector.
The Jeddah Amendment recognises the important role of the blue economy including shipping, seafaring, fisheries and tourism in supporting sustainable economic growth, food security, employment, prosperity and stability.
It expresses deep concern about crimes of piracy, armed robbery against ships and other illicit maritime activity, including fisheries crime, in the Western Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden.
Piracy, the code notes, presents grave danger to the safety and security of persons and ships at sea.