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No fever than 19 coastal countries stretching from Senegal, Nigeria and down to Angola, have started working together in a joint effort at fighting crime at sea.
The European Union (EU) project, Gulf of Guinea Interregional Network (GOGIN), started operations at the weekend, with €9.2 million, four-year programme that will support participating countries in developing joint planning, coordination, communication and IT infrastructure at a national, regional and interregional level.
GOGIN is a tangible outcome of the Code of Conduct on the repression of piracy, armed robbery against ships, and illicit maritime activity in West and Central Africa that was adopted at the June 2013 Summit of Heads of State in Yaoundé, Cameroun, also known as the Yaoundé Process.
Vice Admiral (Ret) and GOGIN Team Leader, Jean-Pierre Labonne, said: “I’m delighted to be here in Yaoundé today, to officially kick-start GOGIN after several months of fine-tuning with my African colleagues…Our long-term aim is to support peace, stability and economic and human development throughout West and Central Africa. My team and I will spare no effort to make GOGIN a success.”
The project is co-funded by the European Union and by the Government of Denmark; and implemented by Expertise France, the French international technical cooperation agency.
The programme covers a massive area, including 6,000 kilometres of coastline and the adjacent waters from Senegal in the north to Angola in the south, as well as the archipelagos of Cape Verde and Sao Tome & Principe. The area is rife with criminal or illegitimate activity from piracy, kidnappings and armed robbery at sea; to the trafficking in drugs, human beings, timber, arms and waste; illegal fishing and oil theft.
Meanwhile, the United Nations has urged governments to implement tighter marine pollution controls or risk further degradation of the oceans, fish stocks and ecosystems.
Countries are being asked to support a ‘zero draft’ Call To Action at the 2017 UN Ocean Conference in New York, that calls for an acceleration of “actions to prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds.”It listed pollution from ships, lost fishing gear, ship strikes, underwater noise and invasive alien species as areas that require focus and investment.
Due to be formally approved by governments on Friday, the Call To Action also underlines global alarm at the impacts of climate change on the ocean, including rising sea temperatures, ocean acidification and sea-level rise.
“We recognise, in this regard, the particular importance of the Paris Agreement adopted under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change,” it stated.The Call To Action comes less than a month before some 170 countries meet in London for two weeks to talk on a range of environmental policies to clean up the global shipping fleet.These include discussions on the use of tar-like Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) in the Arctic and the start of work on a new maritime climate plan due in 2018.
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