WISTA calls for stronger structure to maximise blue economy gains
For all that the African Continent desires to achieve economically, the ocean resources can give.
But, adequate coordination of all it requires to build a formidable maritime sector for sustainable wealth creation, must be taken serious with determined actions.
Those formed part of the discussions held by the Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA) Nigeria, at a Webinar it organised on Tuesday marking the 2020 African Day of the Seas and Oceans.
In her welcome address, President of WISTA Nigeria, Mrs Eunice Ezeoke, said that along the line of this years’ theme “Innovation for a Sustainable Ocean,” Africa needs to effectively manage her oceans and seas for the benefit of her teeming population.
She said “This will reduce poverty in the continent as well as bring her closer to the realisation of the “Agenda 2063” and that is the Africa we want.
“There is need for Africa to increase her Sea Based Trade. For example; of the world’s 90 per cent international trade carried by sea, Africa handled only 6%.”
She added that as the celebration aimed at sensitization and education on the impact of human actions on the ocean and seas, it behove the peoples’ responsibility to further promote better management of the oceans.
Delivering a paper, Barrister Tosan Edodo-Emoren said it was needful for Nigeria to have a Ministry of Maritime Affairs that would concentrate all attention to coordinating all aquatic activities.
According to Edodo-Emoren, such a ministry would be able to do proper book-keeping, data collection, and policy implementation to progress the cause of economic development through the sector.
She also noted that strategies to combat Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing, which is a known global problem, should involve licensing and control of vessels allowed to fish by Flag States as well as surveillance and interception of such fishing vessels.
In her paper, Dr. Felicia Mogo, who described the blue economy as Africa’s renaissance, called for strengthened synergy among all relevant stakeholders in the maritime industry.
She said that a sustainable use of the ocean resources was important for growing fisheries, tourism, and marine transportation.
In the areas of responsibility on the part of government agencies in the sector, Mogo said that the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), where she oversees the marine environment department, had established a management structure for marine litter management.
Under that structure, according to Dr. Mogo, there are community engagements where people within coastal areas do clean ups of the marine environment and get paid some stipend to encourage them.
She also disclosed that a joint taskforce team by the NIMASA and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) had been working to ensure proper ballast water management as the team oversees activities at the designated area for the ballast water exchange.
The discussion recognised that Africa’s seas and oceans serve for overall sustainability of livelihood providing food, medicine and huge support for the air in the environment.
As Ezeoke mentioned, Nigeria should be awake to the need for positioning the Maritime Industry “ for sustainable development at the centre of Africa’s safety, security, economics and social growth under the framework of African Union (AU), adopted instruments such as the ‘Lome Charter’ and further raise awareness on the importance on both National and Continental levels.”