Maritime Law Center calls for the execution of an integrated maritime strategy

The Center for Maritime Law and Security (CEMLAWS) Africa has called on the government to endorse and facilitate the implementation of the National Integrated Maritime Strategy (NIMS) to improve Ghana’s maritime fortunes.

The National Integrated Maritime Strategy is a document that is a key output of the Security Governance Initiative (SGI), developed by an inter-agency maritime working group with technical support from CEMLAWS and the United Nations Office against drugs and crime (UNODC).

It was funded by the Kingdom of Denmark to serve as a consolidated framework for the maritime domain to promote the sustainability and security of Ghana’s blue economy.

Mr. Godfred Sowah Khartey, a member of CEMLAWS, said during the discussion that the government knows the importance of the blue economy to the overall economy of Ghana and therefore would endorse the document.

Mr Khartey said they were waiting for the government to approve the NIMS.

He said the implementation of the NIMS was based on six strategic objectives, namely strengthening the maritime governance framework, ensuring the safety and security of Ghana’s maritime domain.

It was also about developing a thriving blue economy, protecting the marine and coastal environment, fostering capacity building, research, awareness and knowledge sharing in the maritime domain, and the development of cooperation dynamic and diverse regional and international.

He said the NIMS takes into consideration piracy and armed robbery at sea, marine conservation, IUU fishing and the livelihoods of coastal communities.

Mr. Khartey explained “just as we identify the challenges that emerge from ocean activities, we also identify its opportunities. NIMS wants to make the blue economy work.

“Because with a thriving blue economy, jobs are created, poverty is eliminated and crime such as piracy is reduced.”

He said the implementation of NIMS would be done using a bottom-up approach, including the necessary parties and people living in coastal communities.

Ms. Stephanie Lolk Larsen, Research Fellow at CEMLAWS, said a key objective of NIMS was to promote an inter-agency approach.

“There are so many actors and stakeholders within the maritime industry in Ghana. One of the focal points is to create a means of harmonizing their mandates and modes of operation to achieve the objectives of NIMS” , she said.

Dr. Kofi Mbiah, maritime law consultant and jurist at Alliance Partners, noted that political will was of the utmost importance for the sustainability of the integrated national maritime strategy.

He said “political will is essential, this plan can be put into a brilliant document with all the details, but if we don’t execute for the rational outcome expected then it will be an exercise in futility”.

He acknowledged the comprehensiveness of the NIMS and stressed the importance of integration in its implementation.

“In the blue economy you have fishing, oil and gas, tourism, commercial shipping, port services and at the same time there is the issue of the protection of marine life and the safety of the marine environment.

“It is important that this strategy takes into consideration all these focal points so that we can draw synergies from the complementarities that exist.”

Dr. Mbiah, former Executive Director of the Ghana Shippers Authority, called for regional collaboration for the success of NIMS in maritime security and ocean governance.

He also called for the establishment of a defined legal framework that would complement the administrative and operational roles of different organizations to avoid overlaps or gaps during its implementation.