The Ghana Armed Forces and the United States Maritime Forces last Tuesday completed a combined maritime law enforcement operation with a call on states and stakeholders in the maritime industry to collaborate and cooperate to protect the resources in the ocean.
Commodore Mark Yawson, Flag Officer Fleet of the Ghana Navy, who made the call, said the implementation of the framework was costly and difficult in view of the enormous size of the maritime space of each state.
He said it was challenging to police the borderless seas by a single state, hence the call for effective collaboration to ensure absolute safety in Ghana’s territorial waters.
Commodore Yawson made the remark when he and Rear Admiral Thomas Reck, the US 6th Fleet Vice Commander/Director, Maritime Partnership Progamme jointly performed the closing ceremony on board the US Naval vessel, the “First joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV1) Spearhead” that had docked at the Western Naval Command in Sekondi on a goodwill mission.
Ghana and the US have partnered for two successive Africa Maritime Law Enforcement Partnership (AMLEP) operations over the last two years as part of the Africa Partnership Station (APS) programme, an international collaborative maritime security capacity-building programme.
It aims at enforcing partner nation maritime law, follow-on prosecution to benefit African partners.
The exercise which was conducted together with the Marine Police and the Fisheries Commission within Ghana’s Economic Exclusive Zone involved the checking of illegal transnational maritime activities, such as fisheries offences, illicit drug trafficking and illegal migration.
This year’s exercise was focused on “vessel boarding, search and seizure and communications familiarization between maritime operation centers and the ships at sea”.
Commodore a Yawson noted that the rich resources in Ghana’s territorial waters has economic value to the populace therefore in preserving it the International Community has put in place a legal and regulatory framework that permits States to take advantage of the resources in a rational and judicious manner.
According to him, the four week US-Ghana navy collaboration for this year has “improved the capability of the personnel of the Ghana Navy and Fisheries Enforcement Unit in the area of boarding, search and seizures of vessels whose activities contravenes the national laws”.
During question time, Commodore Yawson said legal action was taken against those who were arrested within the period.
Rear Admiral Reck noted that the “the results of this year’s AMLEP extend beyond the number of boarding and violations of maritime law as the end result is greater security in Ghana’s Exclusive Economic Zone”.