He said the exploitation of Africa’s fishery sector by foreign fishing companies was depriving African governments a valuable source of revenue critical to their economic growth.Mr Asiamah made the call in a speech read on his behalf at the opening of the fourth AAMA Executive Council meeting in Accra yesterday.
Attending the two-day event are members of the AAMA from Ghana, Cameroun, Cape Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, Tanzania, The Comoros, Mozambique, South Africa, Egypt, Sudan, Uganda and Nigeria.
The meeting will discuss pertinent matters affecting the maritime industry in Africa.
The participants will, among other things, discuss the role the AAMA is playing in the implementation of Africa’s Integrated Maritime Strategy (AIMS) 2050.
The minister, who went on to explain what exploitation was, said: “The phenomenon of exploitation can be blamed on weak monitoring and inadequate regulation of the fishery sector in Africa.
As such, I urge the Executive Council of AAMA to discuss ways by which this all-important sector can be properly monitored and offenders prosecuted to protect our fish reserves for future generations.”
Mr Asiamah said the maritime industry was the backbone of many economies in Africa that depended on the importation of goods and services for the development of their countries.
He said although 38 out of the 54 countries in Africa were coastal and 90 per cent of Africa’s imports and exports were conducted by sea, statistics on Africa’s share of international seaborne trade were not encouraging.
He, therefore, urged the AAMA, as the coordinating body of maritime authorities, to be at the forefront in developing policies to deal with the critical issues confronting Africa, such as the lack of investment in shipping and Africa’s low tonnage in the carriage of seaborne trade.
“If these issues are overcome, it will enable Africa to position itself appropriately on the global scene and also take advantage of the full benefits of the blue economy to create jobs and wealth for our people,” he said.
While expressing worry over the lack of a maritime wing for the African Union (AU) that would see to harmonise, develop and regulate maritime issues and resources within Africa, he urged the AAMA to engage with the AU to have maritime issues placed high on the union’s agenda
The Director-General of the Ghana Maritime Authority, Mr Thomas Alonsi, said reports from the International Maritime Bureau showed that even though there was a decline in overall worldwide incidents of piracy in 2019, there was an alarming increase in crew kidnapping across the Gulf of Guinea.
He said the number of crews kidnapped increased by more than 50 per cent from 78 in 2018 to 121 in 2019.
“This essentially calls for greater collaboration to have institutions and capabilities established to enforce security and the rule of law as means to addressing illicit maritime activities and organised transnational crimes in our waters,” he said.
The Chairman of the AAMA, Dr Dakuku A. Peterside, urged member countries to show commitment to efforts to achieve the goals for which the association was set up.
“We will not relent in our efforts to build a competitive and vibrant maritime and shipping sector capable of giving Africa a voice among the comity of maritime nations,” he said.