From Djibouti to Jeddah, the Western Indian Ocean needs security

Lessons from successful state collaboration against piracy must be extended to other maritime threats.
Crimes like piracy, illegal fishing and the smuggling and trafficking of firearms, narcotics and people continue to threaten security in the Western Indian Ocean. If left unopposed, they severely hamper shipping and the growth of blue or ocean economies.

Yet there are fundamental security options in place, for example in the Djibouti Code of Conduct (DCoC) and its 2017 Jeddah Amendments (DCoC+). And while participating states may have different priorities regarding the ocean’s threats, combined efforts and stronger national capacities could improve maritime security overall.

At a meeting this month in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, signatories explored how they could build on years of successful counter-piracy cooperation to create a regional maritime security architecture to tackle all crimes. The meeting also discussed the question common to all maritime codes, conventions and strategies – how to move from declarations of intent to effective action.

Twenty littoral countries of southern and eastern Africa and the Arabian Peninsula adopted the original DCoC in January 2009. Many have limited naval or maritime security capacity. The code provided the basis for enhanced national and regional inter-agency cooperation, information sharing, capacity building and training. The result was more effective collaboration among states to combat piracy and armed robbery at sea.

The DCoC+ amendments now cover other important transnational maritime crimes including the trafficking of arms and narcotics, the illegal wildlife trade, illegal oil bunkering and theft, human trafficking and smuggling and the illegal dumping of toxic waste. These changes showed that despite cultural divides and historical disputes, states could agree on common maritime security goals. The Jeddah Amendments suggest an increasing political appetite to strengthen the institutions needed to combat maritime crimes.

The code of conduct brings together a wide range of Western Indian Ocean states (see map). It is a global effort facilitated by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and developed by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the African Union (AU), the African regional economic communities, the European Union and INTERPOL, to name a few.

States eligible to sign the Djibouti Code of Conduct

The 2018 DCoC+ meeting highlighted several challenges for signatories and stakeholders. States debated whether they should widen the code’s counter-piracy provisions to include non-traditional threats like illegal fishing and dumping of toxic waste. This is in light of the drop in piracy incidents from 2012, the existence of other major maritime security threats in the region, and the growing interest in benefiting from the blue economy.

How the code will play out in practice is still unclear. The DCoC+ is not a binding legal instrument. Threats vary from country to country, and participating states differ on the definition and purpose of maritime security. For instance, some countries like South Africa continue to consider piracy a major threat. Others now focus on illegal fishing or the trafficking of narcotics.

This means that while states agree that a wider array of crimes be tackled, they might choose to focus on only one or two based on their particular understanding of the code’s purpose. More agreement on these priorities is needed for the code to be effective.

Member states should also contribute to and steer the DCoC+ as a national priority. To achieve regional security, states must develop stronger domestic capacities. This includes integrated maritime security strategies and policy and operational coordination committees.

The DCoC+ is also not the only maritime security or governance framework in the region. It is part of many maritime initiatives like the UNODC’s Indian Ocean Forum on Maritime Crime, the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, and the work conducted in the Indian Ocean Rim Association or the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium.

There are also several African regional economic communities pursuing maritime interests, as well as the AU itself with its 2050 Africa’s Integrated Maritime Strategy and the Lomé Charter. Duplication of efforts must be avoided. Synergies between countries with limited capacity for maritime security or governance should be encouraged.

The integration of other states into the code as observers or participants also needs to be considered. Three key Western Indian Ocean littoral states are not members of the code – Iran, Pakistan and India. If the DCoC+ doesn’t involve these states, they might pursue their interests in other organisations which could mean a duplication of efforts.

Another important issue is the relationship between the DCoC+’s three information sharing centres and other similar regional initiatives. The centres are key to the code’s success, but they lack visibility and haven’t yet fulfilled their potential. Other information centres, like the EU’s Maritime Security Centre Horn of Africa and the recently opened centres in Madagascar and Seychelles, funded by the EU Programme to Promote Regional Maritime Security, are likely to handle most regional information sharing tasks.

Yet the DCoC+ can provide the framework for linking all information sharing centres. It can also provide lessons from best practices for other collective maritime security efforts, such as West Africa’s Yaoundé Code. If states tackle these issues, the 2018 Jeddah meeting could prove effective beyond piracy and the Indian Ocean to apply to West Africa too, and thus Africa as a whole.

Christian Bueger, Professor of International Relations at Cardiff University and the director of SafeSeas and Timothy Walker, Senior Researcher, Peace Operations and Peacebuilding, ISS Pretoria

Source: ISS Africa


Piracy incidents double off coast of East Africa in 2017: study

The number of piracy incidents doubled off the coast of East Africa in 2017 compared to 2016, an international maritime body said in its latest report released on Monday.

This indicates that Somali criminal networks are still capable of sophisticated attacks, according to the report by One Earth Future (OEF)’s Oceans Beyond Piracy program.

The report calls for new approach to combat maritime threats as the total number of piracy/armed robbery attacks against foreign vessels increased to 54 in 2017 compared to 27 in 2016.

“Pirate activity in 2017 clearly demonstrates that pirate groups retain their ability to organize and implement attacks against ships transiting the region,” said Maisie Pigeon, the report’s lead author.

The organization said the total cost of Somali piracy remains within the historical norm of the past three years, noting that there was a 13 percent decrease in the use of privately contracted armed security personnel between January 2015 and December 2017.

The study says crew members of the FV Siraj still remain in captivity after three years of hijack, noting that a total of 1,102 seafarers were affected by piracy and armed robbery in the Western Indian Ocean region in 2017.

“Additional threats complicate the maritime security picture in the Western Indian Ocean region, including spillover into the maritime space from the political conflict in Yemen,” says the report.

According to maritime experts, Somali pirates tend to be well armed with automatic weapons and rocket propelled grenade (RPG) and sometimes use skiffs launched from mother vessels, which may be hijacked fishing vessels or dhows, to conduct attacks far from the Somali coast.

The experts said lack of economic opportunities and the prevalence of illegal fishing are pushing more Somalis to turn to piracy – partly as a form of protest and partly because they see no other options.

“There are now a wide range of threats to shipping near the Horn of Africa that have been complicated by the conflict and instability in Yemen,” said Phil Belcher, Marine Director of Intertanko.

“We are advising our members to consider a more comprehensive security assessment to take into account other threats beyond traditional piracy emanating from the regional conflict in Yemen,” Belcher said.

The report analyzes the human and economic impacts of maritime piracy and robbery at sea in the Western Indian Ocean Region, the Gulf of Guinea, Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean.

Source: Xinhua


Somalia: Fishermen Struggle to Compete with Foreign Vessels

Each morning, fishermen in the northern Somali port city of Bosaso pull in their catch of tuna, marlin, and more.

The waters off northern Somalia are some of the richest in Africa. As businessmen and women on the beach haggle over the shining piles of fresh fish, the daily catch looks like a rich haul.

But all is not well here for local fishermen. Many of them complain about larger, foreign boats that enter Somali waters, outfishing the locals.

“Now there is illegal fishing, fish stealing, and so on,” explains boat captain Mohammed Elias Abdiqadir. He said such foreign fishing boats come from Iran, while others in Bosaso accused Yemenis of fishing in Somali waters.

“We don’t have a powerful government who can stop these illegal fishermen who are creating problems,” said Abdiqadir.

Foreign boats in Somali waters have been a problem for years. Some of them operate with no license at all. Others buy permits from Somali authorities, though at times under questionable circumstances.

From protectors to pirates

A decade ago, Somali fishermen took up arms against the foreign boats, hoping to retake their waters from outsiders, but some of the Somali vigilantes then became pirates, hijacking commercial vessels plying the waters off the Horn of Africa.

At one point, pirate gangs were seizing more than 40 vessels per year and holding hundreds of sailors hostage for ransom.

An international naval effort has mostly stamped out the pirate menace, and Somalia has started to build fledgling local navies, including the Puntland Maritime Police Force, which patrols the waters off Bosaso.

But neither has managed to rid the area of foreign boats.

Abdiqani says part of the problem is that the foreign vessels are larger and have better technology than the local crafts, which are mostly small, fiberglass skiffs.

“They fish in the deep ocean, and they have long nets and better tools than us,” he said.

Until the foreign boats are completely gone, many experts say the threat of a return of piracy will remain, as out-of-work young men seek economic opportunities in criminality.

Last year, for instance, pirates launched a string of attacks on commercial vessels off Puntland’s long coastline.

Somalia’s fledgling fish industry

But the challenges for Somalia’s fishing industry do not only lie offshore.

Fishermen use old fishing technology. Bosaso’s port needs more modern facilities to prepare fish in a sanitary environment to export. And there’s yet to be a strong supply chain for exporting Somali fish abroad.

But a new program by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization hopes to give these parts of Somalia’s fledgling fishing industry a boost.

On the outskirts of Bosaso, women have been trained to process fish meat into a dried fish product to be sold in inland Somalia.

The women, dressed in bright yellow aprons, work on sanitary tables, where they butcher fresh fish steaks and slice them into fine strips to dry.

Despite attracting flies, the bright sun naturally cures and disinfects the flesh.

All the fish the women process have been caught by local youth, who themselves were trained by the FAO in deep-sea fishing techniques, and given larger, better-equipped boats that can reach the most profitable species.


Air Force to deploy drones to secure oil facilities in Niger Delta 

The Nigerian Air Force has said it would deploy drones to secure oil installations in the creeks of Niger Delta. The service said its recently inducted drones otherwise known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, UAVs, will help secure oil and gas pipelines as well as other critical oil installations in the Niger Delta.

A statement by its Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Vice Marshal Olatokunbo Adesanya, said the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, disclosed this Friday in Abuja, while playing host to the Managing Director and Country Chairman of Shell Companies in Nigeria, Mr Osagie Okunbor at the Nigerian Air Force Headquarters. The statement quoted the Air Force boss as saying :”This is to ensure that the maritime domain is safe for social and economic activities by preventing oil-theft, pipeline vandalism, militancy, kidnapping and other forms of economic sabotage thereby helping to sustain the economic lifeline of Nigeria.” Abubakar noted that, over the years, the NAF had been actively involved in the security of oil pipelines, protection of critical national assets and general safety of the maritime environment. According to him, the recent development of the capability to produce UAVs had enabled the NAF to induct an operational drone named Tsaigumi.

“He further explained that the newly inducted UAV, which has day and night capability, has an operational endurance in excess of 10 hours, a service ceiling of 15,000 feet and a mission radius of 100km. ““The Tsaigumi could also be used for policing operations, disaster management, convoy protection, maritime patrol, pipeline and power line monitoring as well as mapping and border patrol duties”, he added. Speaking further, the CAS stated that the NAF was ready to partner with Shell Companies in Nigeria to produce more of the TSAIGUMI UAV, an option that would be more cost effective than importing drones from other countries. He said this would help develop local content as well as save more foreign exchange for the country. “Accordingly, the Service would be willing to send experts to Shell to make presentation on the capabilities of the Tsaigumi UAV and explore mutually beneficial ways to better secure Shell facilities while further developing the NAF’s UAV capability”, Air Marshal Abubakar said. The CAS also informed the visiting Managing Director about the agreement with the Kaduna State Government, which was to acquire UAVs for the NAF to help operate towards further securing the State. He added that the replication of such an arrangement with the Shell Companies Nigeria would enhance the security of the Companies’ facilities. The CAS then stated that the NAF would willingly deploy its Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance aircraft for surveillance whenever the Company requested for it. In his remarks, the Managing Director thanked the NAF for its continuous support, which had spanned many decades. According to him, the efforts of the NAF and other security agencies have made the continuous existence of peace and investment friendly environment possible in the Southern part of Nigeria. He noted that the deployment of UAVs by the NAF would indeed further help to secure oil facilities and other crucial economic assets in the area. Mr Osagie thanked the CAS for granting him audience and for the readiness of the NAF to continue providing security to ensure the sustenance of economic activities in the Niger Delta, in particular, and Nigeria, in general. It is worthy to note that the NAF has played vital roles in the restoration of peace in the Niger Delta and other parts of the country. It is currently actively involved in the fight against insurgency in the Northeast, where it launched Operation Thunder Strike against the Boko Haram insurgents a few days ago.

Source: Vanguard


Shipping faces ‘wide range of threats’ off Horn of Africa

Report shows Yemen war has added to risk in the region with incidents on the rise.

Source: Tradewinds


Government outlaws private security guards onboard vessels

Notwithstanding the spate of pirate attacks on its territorial waters, the Federal Government has declared that the Nigerian Constitution forbids the use of armed private guards on board vessels.

The Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, who made this known at the 3th edition of Lagos International Maritime Week in Lagos, called on maritime stakeholders to develop a strategy to deal with the challenges within the permissible scope of security agencies to improve maritime security.

Malami, in a presentation entitled: “Armed Guards Aboard Merchant Vessels in Nigeria – Legal or Illegal,” said maritime security has become an important requirement for merchants’ vessels over the last decade. This, he said, is due to the increasing threats from pirates across the world, adding that the issue of maritime security in the Nigerian territorial waters should be taken seriously.

The Minister, who was represented by the Special Assistant to the President on Financial Crimes, Abiodun Aikomo, said: “Even though Nigerian-flagged vessels cannot make use of armed private guards as the law stands today. The reality is that there must be a dynamic strategy of dealing with security challenges facing merchant vessels in Nigerian waters.”

He added that: “Human beings have the responsible for self-preservation of their life and limbs and by extension, private properties and investments.

“As to the legality and illegality of armed guards on merchant vessels in Nigeria, the debate should no longer be focused on whether armed guards should be employed. Rather, how they can effectively, legally and safely be engaged with emphasis on accreditation and accountability.

“In this regard, the United Kingdom, and Norway have provided regulations on the use of private guards onboard. The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), has also announced its change of stance on armed guards.”

According to him, it could be necessary to amend the relevant laws in the long term, adding that there was a need for stakeholders to develop a strategy within the scope of power of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), in collaboration with other sister agencies.

The Lagos State Commissioner for Transportation, Ladi Lawanson, sued for massive financing in the sector, especially in the face of emerging innovations and advances in technology.

Lawanson, who was represented by his Technical Assistant, Mrs Olufadeke Immanuel, said shortage of maritime infrastructure in Nigeria has largely reduced the nation’s ability to harness the full potential inherent in the industry.

“In order to leverage the inherent wealth of the maritime sector, it behoves on us as government and people, to commit our resources towards the development of requisite supporting infrastructure for the sector.

The Consul-General of France, Laurent Polonceaux, noted that Nigeria was surrounded by French-speaking neighbours as well as being the largest trading partner of France in West Africa.Polonceaux said the business interest of both countries pervaded all segments of economy value chain ranging from oil and gas, food and nutrition, pharmaceuticals, security, transportation, to logistics and Africa food production.

The Founder, Lagos International Maritime Week, Mrs Oritsematosan Edodo-Emore, said this year’s conference, themed “Developing Maritime Infrastructure in Africa,” argued that Africa’s development should define the vision for the industry by seeking international cooperation to actualise it.

According to her, Nigeria should take advantage of the global shortage of skilled maritime manpower by developing maritime education and training institutions, to produce skilled manpower for continental and global markets.

Source: The Guardian


Human Rights and Wrongs

Dr. Sofia Galani, Lecturer in Law at the University of Bristol and a Non-Executive Board of Advisors member of Human Rights at Sea gave a short interview on piracy to the Navigate Response, a global crisis communications network specializing in the international shipping, port and offshore industries:

How have attitudes to human rights at sea changed over time regarding piracy?

Piracy and counter-piracy responses have had a tremendous impact on human rights both for those suspected of piracy and for seafarers. Maritime enforcement operations and the subsequent prosecutions and trials alerted the international community to the human rights abuses suspects of piracy might face.

Although it took more time for the human rights of seafarers attacked or kidnapped by pirates to attract attention, the human cost of piracy is now an important part of the human rights at sea debate. The hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants fleeing their countries on board unseaworthy boats and the increasing reports of slavery and abuses of seafarers and fishermen have also played a significant role in our current understanding of human rights at sea …It is high time that human rights at sea were effectively recognized and protected.

Regarding piracy, how are human rights affected between regions?

Different piracy models and bespoke counter-piracy mechanisms might affect human rights at sea differently in the various regions. The regional or international character of counter-piracy operations, for example, have a different impact on the human rights of piracy suspects. While the rights to life, liberty, fair trial and freedom from torture of all piracy suspects can be interfered with, Somalis have been at a more disadvantaged position. Somalis are often transferred to third states, where they have no ties, to be tried and prosecuted. They often have no contact with their families or face inconsistent punishments depending on domestic law.

To address these gaps, flag states, coastal states and the shipping industry have to work together towards improving the human and labor standards on board vessels as well as making available reporting mechanisms and remedies for victims of human rights violations at sea.

Source: Navigate Response



MARINE Nationale Frigate La Fayette continues to provide outstanding support to Combined Task Force 150 (CTF 150) and Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), by interdicting a suspicious dhow and seizing 260 Kgs of heroin on May 11, 2018. It is her third seizure of narcotics in less than a month.

In an operation coordinated by CTF 150 headquarters, Marine Nationale Frigate La Fayette was conducting maritime security operations and working closely with a French Navy Falcon patrol aircraft.  Together they located a suspicious vessel that La Fayette interdicted with assistance from her own Panther helicopter. The ship’s Commanding Officer determined that further action was required and quickly requested permission from Commander CTF 150 to activate a boarding team. A thorough search that lasted nearly 24 hours in rough sea conditions resulted in the seizure of 260 Kgs of heroin worth an estimated 61 million USD.

La Fayette’s success builds upon that of her sister frigate Marine Nationale Jean de Vienne, where together they have confiscated over 6 tonnes of hashish and 1.2 tonnes of heroin over the last two months, valued in excess of 1.9 billion USD.

Commander of CTF 150, Commodore Mal Wise, Royal Australian Navy, recognised that the continued success in removing illicit narcotics from the smuggling circuit is a testament to the hard work of naval units committed to CTF150 efforts ensuring the oceans are safe and used for legitimate purposes.

“The hard work, professionalism and dedication of the Officers and sailors in La Fayette is outstanding and a shining example of the French Navy’s commitment to ensure illicit narcotics do not make it to their intended destinations and are not used to fund terrorism”.

Now nearing the end of the Australian Command, CTF 150 continues to work hard in the region to counter narcotics smuggling and in turn counter terrorism which the narcotics trade funds. The current staff is supported by partners from France, New Zealand, Pakistan, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Media note:  *This calculation is based on the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission Illicit Drug Data Report 2015–16 figures for Cannabis Resin (Hashish) at $39 USD per gram (p215) and Heroin at $235,000 USD per kilogram (p 216).


Two more robberies against ships at Indonesian Samarinda anchorage

In its latest weekly report, the ReCAAP ISC informed of two recent incidents of armed robbery against ships in Asia. Both attacks were reported at Samarinda Anchorage, Muara Berau, East Kalimantan, Indonesia. ReCAAP ISC has earlier in the month informed of similar incidents against ships in this location.

The report also includes two incidents of armed robbery that occurred outside Asia, both in Takoradi Anchorage, Ghana, on 29 April and 3 May, respectively:

While the bulk carrier ‘North Colorado’ was anchored, one perpetrator boarded the poop deck of the ship from a small boat. The master raised the alarm, and the perpetrator jumped overboard towards a small boat located near the starboard side of the poop deck. After the incident, the master informed the flag State and increased the number of lookouts.

A few days later, while at anchor, two perpetrators were spotted by the Duty Watchkeeper at the main deck, starboard side, of the tug vessel ‘Name Withheld’. Upon being discovered, both perpetrators eventually jumped overboard and swam towards a canoe where a third person was waiting onboard. There was also no reported injury to crew. The padlock to the paint locker was broken. There was no item reported stolen.

The ReCAAP ISC urges ship master and crew to report all incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships to the nearest coastal State and flag State, exercise vigilance and adopt relevant preventive measures taking reference from the Regional Guide to Counter Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships in Asia.

Furthermore, a report from IMO GISIS stated that while transiting the Sibutu passage, Philippines, two high speed crafts were sighted approaching the bulk carrier ‘Berge K2’. As the boats closed to the ship, the crew saw a blue boat with two persons wearing face masks and a white boat with one person wearing a face mask. Two Philippine Naval patrol vessels contacted Berge K2 via VHF channel 16. The high-speed boats closed to three cables from the ship, noticed the hardening of the ship, crossed the ship’s stern and moved away.

Accordingly, the ship had received cautionary advice from the Philippine Navy and Coast Guard Coast Watch as they were transiting the Sibutu passage. The incident was reported to Philippines Coast Guard, Philippines Navy, MMEA Putrajaya, FOC RMN, Marine Police Malaysia & ESSCOM.

However, the Philippine Focal Point reported to the ReCAAP ISC that this incident ‘did not occurred‘ and therefore is not considered an incident of piracy or armed robbery against ships.

Source: Safety4Sea


AGF seeks amendment to maritime laws

Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) Abubakar Malami (SAN) has urged the National Assembly to amend maritime laws to allow private guards carry arms onboard vessels.

Speaking at the Lagos International Maritime Week and exhibition hosted by Zoe Maritime Resources Limited in Lagos yesterday, the AGF said it was not lawful for armed guards to carry guns onboard merchant ships.

Represented by Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Financial Crimes, Biodun Aikomu, the AGF called on maritime stakeholders to rally round the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) in order to take advantage of existing relationship between NIMASA and the Navy.

He said: “Maritime security has become an important requirement for merchant vessels over the last decade due to the increased threats from pirates across the world. The issue of maritime security in the Nigerian territorial waters is one that should be taken very seriously; human beings have the responsibility for self-preservation of lives and limbs, and by extension, private properties and investments.

“As to the legality or illegality of armed guards on merchant vessels in Nigeria, the debate should no longer be based on whether armed guards should be employed but rather how they can effectively, legally and safely be engaged, with the emphasis on accreditation and accountability.

“Even though Nigerian flagged vessels cannot make use of armed private security guards as the Law stands today, the reality is that there must be a dynamic strategy of dealing with the security challenges facing Merchant Vessels in the Nigerian waters.

“It may be necessary to amend the relevant laws in the long terms but in the meantime, stakeholders should develop a strategy to deal with the challenge within the permissible scope of powers of NlMASA in collaboration with the Nigerian Navy and Marine Police.”

Also speaking, the Commissioner, Lagos State Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives, Mrs Olayinka Oladunjoye lamented the inadequacy of maritime infrastructures in Nigeria which she said has largely reduced the country’s ability to harness the full potentials inherent in her maritime industry.

She said: “In order to benefit from the inherent wealth of the maritime sector, it behooves on us as government and people to commit our resources towards the development of requisite infrastructure for the sector.”

Oladunjoye called for investments in ports and terminals, cargo handling equipment, channels and harbors, warehouses, vessel repair and ship building yards, port access roads, inter-modal transport, ICT, deep seaport, power and water.

In her welcome address, convener of the event, Mrs Oritsematosan Edodo Emore said the introduction of the youth to the maritime industry is key to the long term development of maritime manpower in Africa.

The theme of the event was: ‘Developing Maritime Infrastructure in Africa’.

She said the Lagos Maritime Week is an event that brings together maritime stakeholders from around the globe to deliberate on concurrent challenges that face the industry, network and proffer solutions.

Source: The Nation

Language »