“Here Africa faces a similar problem as with its land borders – long coast-lines and very weak maritime forces,” he said. He says South Africa has a 2798km sea border, that of southern Africa was 9719km and sub-Saharan Africa 21 000km. Western Europe's, fjords included, is 43 053km, the US 19 920km, India is 7000km and Brazil 7491km.
Heitman says the primary issue to be resolved is generally whether or not to grant a right of hot pursuit, or how to set up a mutually satisfactory alternative intercept and arrest system. “This will be primarily a matter for politics and law. Once decided, this is essentially an issue of maritime surveillance and patrol, and area that is well understood, if not always adequately enforced and funded.”
The outer edge of the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and of the territorial waters – which include the maritime borders – present a different challenge. “They are de facto and de jure borders that must be patrolled together with the EEZ itself, even if access cannot be denied. There may also be cases where an arrest is required under international or bilateral agreements, as in connection with arms smuggling, narcotics smuggling and some illegal fishing. The ‘border nature’ of these lines notwithstanding, this is again primarily an issue of maritime surveillance and patrol.
“The coastline itself is more difficult. This is de facto an international border, but is also usually within some local jurisdiction that wants to prove its authority vis-a-vis the national government. That problem notwithstanding, there is a need to be able to prevent illegal landing of people or goods, or illegal departure ‘over-the-beach’. There are ample examples of narcotics and other goods – and people – being smuggled ‘over-the-beach’ and there are also many examples of high value stolen goods leaving a country ‘over-the-beach’. The only real solution to this is to find a way to ensure cooperation between local law enforcement agencies and the agency – coast guard or navy – responsible for maritime surveillance and patrol.”
Heitman adds the only way to achieve effective control over the maritime domain is by means of frequent patrols of the country’s waters by ships that can operate effectively throughout those waters under all weather conditions. “Those ships will need to be supported by surveillance or patrol aircraft if they are to be fully effective. And both will need to be supported by an integrated intelligence and command system. It is worth understanding that a patrol vessel must be able to force an arrest, and must, therefore, be armed and have the means to deploy boarding parties. Fisheries inspection vessels are not patrol vessels, although they can be employed as part of the surveillance network.
“Attention must also be paid to the matter of controlling access over the shoreline. It is not enough to patrol the sea and secure harbours and ports. People do move things ‘over-the-beach’, and that needs to be prevented.
“Here too, cooperation between the countries of a region will pay enormous dividends, as has been amply illustrated by the considerable success achieved by Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore in fighting piracy in their adjacent waters.”
Pic: Maritime Security
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