The Chiefs of Navies of Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Sierra Leone and Guinea, the Chief of Coast Guard of Liberia and the high Commander of the National Gendarmerie of Burkina Faso have signed a Memorandum of understanding (MoU) for joint Maritime operations in ECOWAS maritime zone F.
Collaboration, Coordination and the pooling of resources for collective security and safety of Zone F Maritime Domain were the core engagements that was agreed in the MoU signed in Accra.
With this MoU, ECOWAS intends to provide an important response to any sort of threat to maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea and specifically in zone F.
The Chiefs of Navies, Coast Guard and the High Commander of National Gendarmerie of the six-member states of ECOWAS Maritime Zone F, met to sign the MoU that will describe the operational framework for collaborative and collective states actions against criminality in the Zone F Maritime Domain and the Gulf of Guinea.
For the countries in the Maritime Zone F and the Gulf of Guinea, the security of Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) is of paramount to develop and guarantee the sustainability of their Blue Economy, which touches upon different sectors including fisheries, tourism, transport, trade, offshore exploitation and many others.
With this objective in mind, the Heads of States of ECOWAS, ECCAS and GGC member states adopted the Yaoundé Code of Conduct and Memorandum of Understanding at a summit in June 2013 in Yaoundé, Cameroon.
The Yaoundé process established a new Inter-Regional Architecture composed of five Interconnected multinational maritime Centres and 17 national maritime Operations Centres.
The Centres are to coordinate operations and share information to ensure freedom of navigation at sea, curb illegal Unreported Unregulated fishing, illicit trafficking, piracy and maritime criminality.
At the heart of this information sharing architecture are the multinational maritime Coordination Centres (MMCCs) located at each of the five Maritime Zones in the Gulf of Guinea.
The primary role of the MMCCs is to coordinate and share actionable maritime information for effective maritime law enforcement and governance.
Thanks to the signature of the MoU, among the six countries the MMCC in Accra the MMCC will also be able to coordinate joint maritime patrols and enhanced maritime safety and security in the region.
The MOU will also provide for ship riders which means personnel of the member states embarking in each other vessel/aircraft in order to better exercise jurisdiction at sea.
The MMCC Zone F serves as the focal point for the planning and conduct of joint operations at sea.