Mr Daniel Appianin, the Deputy Director-General of the Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA), has called for a Maritime Transport Policy (MTP) to effectively address the regulatory and safety issues.
He said stakeholders in the maritime industry had come to the realisation that it was time to have a conversation on maritime issues, critical among them being the MTP.
"Maritime transportation is a prime mover of trade and is also considered to be the most cost-effective transport option, worldwide," Mr Appianin said on Wednesday at the opening of a three-day National Maritime Transport Policy (NMTP) Workshop in Accra.
"It is estimated that about 80 per cent of global trade by volume and over 70 per cent of global trade by value are carried by sea and are handled by ports worldwide."
It should be noted, however, that the maritime industry faces numerous regulatory, infrastructure, security, safety and pollution prevention challenges that threaten its sustainability.
Mr Appianin said this must be addressed in order to preserve the sanctity and sustainability of the industry to continue to drive development.
The workshop was organised by the GMA, in collaboration with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). Its objective is to raise awareness on the importance of NMTP as a good governance practice by engaging the representatives of the various ministries and agencies and other stakeholders in a meaningful dialogue.
This would lay the basis for developing such a policy, which could form part of or be parallel to a broader national integrated maritime policy or ocean governance policy.
Mr Appianin said the continued growth in global seaborne trade, which was about four per cent per annum as well as a steady increase in innovative business practices in the sector - from operational and regulatory perspectives - means that Ghana as a country risked being left behind.
He said this includes developing a maritime transport policy to guide the activities in the sector.
He said the rapid changes in maritime education and training, port infrastructural development, global trade, security, safety, and marine pollution prevention and response challenges required swift development and implementation of a NMTP.
"A MTP will allow us to address all such challenges in the most comprehensive and systematic manner while creating the enabling environment for the country to enjoy the full benefits of our marine resources," Mr Appianin said.
"As the regulatory agency and focal body for the implementation of the IMO programmes, the GMA has ratified and implemented a number of IMO instruments in a bid to ensure that operations in the maritime industry meet international standards as prescribed by the IMO."
He said it was clear that the rapid technological advancement and innovation in shipping and other developments in the industry pointed to the critical need of a MTP.
He noted that Ghana must embrace this opportunity, especially as she worked towards becoming a transportation hub in the Sub-region.
He said this would also give more prominence to maritime activities and expand opportunities for investments, jobs, and related logistical, supply chain, and financial management.
Mr Kwaku Ofori Asiamah, the Minister of Transport, in a speech read on his behalf, said the maritime sector had been a major contributor to Ghana's development agenda, and its international trade relations.
He said Ghana had recently reviewed its National Transport Policy developed in 2008, which includes the National Maritime Law.
The Policy had been reviewed in line with international best practices as well as incorporated emerging issues in transport such as environmental and climate change.
Mr Asiamah said any subsector specific policy such as the MTP should be borne out of the National Transport Policy.
Mr Jonathan Pace, the Acting Chief of Programme Management and Technical Cooperation of IMO, said the IMO would continue to support Ghana's efforts in building a vibrant maritime industry.