Ghana to collaborate with neighbours to fight crime in the Atlantic Ocean

NEW YORK— Ghana is ready to work with countries that share the Atlantic Ocean to ensure that the increasing incidence of piracy, oil theft, trafficking and smuggling of drugs, arms and people and unlawful dumping of hazardous waste in the sea is reduced to the barest minimum.


This assurance was given by Ghana’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, at the Ministerial Meeting on strengthening the Atlantic Cooperation in New York.


The US, on the sidelines of the 77th UN General Assembly in New York, led an initiative of 18 countries including Ghana, Senegal, Britain, Canada, Spain, and Norway among others to step up cooperation in the Atlantic Ocean.


Botchwey described the initiative as timely, saying that Ghana welcomes the objectives as they seek to protect the marine environment and ensure sustainable exploitation of marine resources.


“Coastlines and territorial waters are equally fraught with all manner of dangers and insecurity that threaten our peace, stability, progress, and the prosperity of our Countries,” she said.


She indicated that, as part of its priorities as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, Ghana has championed multilateral action on the many challenges that nations in the Atlantic Zone face.


To her, the increasing incidence of piracy and other criminal activities such as oil theft, human trafficking, smuggling of drugs and arms, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU), unlawful dumping of hazardous waste in the waters and perpetration of other environmental crimes comes at great cost to the people and economies around the Atlantic Ocean area and the world at large.


Ghana’s top diplomat was upbeat that a Joint Statement by states that form the Atlantic Cooperation will launch a process leading to a structured framework for capitalizing on mutually beneficial opportunities for cooperation, including through existing regional, sub-regional and inter-regional mechanisms.


On his part, the US Secretary of Defense, Anthony Blinken, said the US will devote another US$100 million next year to the effort, in addition to around US$400 million already spent each year on maritime initiatives in the Atlantic.


He was hopeful that the additional investment coupled with commitments and cooperation of countries that share the Atlantic will go a long way to preserve the marine ecosystem and enhance the lives of people who depend on the ocean.


According to the UN, one in five fish caught in the Atlantic Ocean comes from illegal fishing, translating into losses of up to US$23 billion per year. That harms coastal communities that rely on sustainable fish stocks for food and income. It fuels corruption and threatens the health and biodiversity of the oceans.


Experts say countries that border the Atlantic cannot take for granted the free and open maritime trade that employs so many people, the undersea cables that connect the world, the fish stocks and wildlife that sustain the world.