Maritime actors and academia urged to collaborate to safeguard marine domain

General

Madam Ophelia Mensah Hayford, Minister of Environment, Science, Technology, and Innovation (MESTI), has urged maritime actors to use modern technologies and the strengths of academic institutions to protect the marine domain.

‘Our academic institutions play a pivotal role in driving innovation and building capacity for

maritime security and sustainability. By taking advantage of their research capabilities, we can develop innovative technologies and strategies that are specifically designed to address the maritime challenges we face,’ she said.

The Minister gave the advice on Thursday at a high-level meeting on Maritime Domain Awareness co-organised by the Ghana Navy and University of Ghana (UG) in Accra.

It was on the theme: ‘Maritime Domain Awareness: Role of Naval Forces and Academia’. 

In a speech read on her behalf by Mr Cephas Adjei Mensah, Director of Research, Statistics and Information Management, MESTI, she said Ghana’s maritime resources were under constant threat from illegal activities, envi
ronmental degradation, and over-exploitation.

She suggested the adoption of a comprehensive approach to Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) to counter those threats.

The Minister said effective MDA allowed maritime authorities to monitor and manage activities, detect and deter illegal activities, and respond swiftly to environmental hazards.

She said such prompt reactions required collaborative and cross-cutting engagements,

partnerships and cooperation.

Madam Hayford said the Ghana Navy played an indispensable role in safeguarding the sovereignty of the state, securing maritime assets, and protecting Ghanaians.

She said the integration of satellites developed by the European Space Agency and European Operational Meteorological Satellite Agency into Ghana’s maritime strategy would provide the necessary insights to make informed decisions and implement proactive measures. 

The Minister expressed gratitude to the European Union Commission for their unwavering support in providing critical technologies.

Rear
Admiral Issah Adam Yakubu, Chief of the Naval Staff said the ‘cross fertilisation of ideas’ between Academia and security agencies was critical to finding cutting edge technological solutions to deal with emerging complex maritime security challenges.

He said the Gulf of Guinea possessed resources that can significantly contribute to the blue economy with industries such as fisheries, oil and gas, maritime transportation and tourism that boosted economic development.

The World Bank defines ‘blue economy’ as the ‘sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem.’

The Chief of the Naval Staff stated that piracy and armed robbery at sea, illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, pollution, and smuggling, among other things, continue to impede the full potential of our blue economy.

He said information sharing among Gulf of Guinea nations through national and regional monitoring mechanisms had made a positive impact
in the maritime environment.

Rear Admiral Yakubu said the availability of some equipment in the maritime operation centres had also greatly improved maritime situational awareness.

‘The Ghana Navy has gone further to explore the use of drone technology to improve our capabilities. Additionally, the Ghana Maritime Authority in collaboration with the Ghana Navy will soon take delivery of state-of-the-art Coastal Surveillance System comprising Over-the-Horizon-Radars, Coastal Radars and Electro-optical cameras which would further extend our ability to gain maritime situational awareness as far as our Exclusive Economic Zone.

‘This hi-tech comprehensive system will be the second of its kind in our Region, after Nigeria’s Falcon Eye system which has enabled them to effectively deal with maritime crimes in their maritime domain. This is a great example of the importance of collaboration and the need to further strengthen such collaborations,’ he said

Prof. Boateng Onwona-Agyeman, Provost of College of Basic and
Applied Sciences, UG, said the institution, through previous initiatives, had provided training support to the Navy in geospatial data analysis and interpretation, and introductory experiences with tools for handling, manipulating and interpreting data such as MATLAB and Python.

He said the Navy had also been instrumental in supporting students and various projects, especially those from the Department of Marine and Fisheries Sciences, by offering sea-going experiences, equipment deployment at sea, and swimming training.

Prof. Onwona-Agyemang said the Navy’s collaboration with the UG would enable personnel to utilise web applications developed for ship and oil spill detections and the monitoring of illegal fishing activities.

As part of the event, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed by the Ghana Navy and the University of Ghana to strengthen collaboration between both institutions.

Source: Ghana News Agency