South Africa is committed to its international obligations regarding lawlessness at sea and actively combatting organised transnational maritime crime the UN Security Council was told this week.
Ambassador Mxolisi Nkosi, deputy director-general: global governance and continental agenda in the Department of International Relations and Co-operation (DIRCO), said maritime crime had “a significant impact” on Africa. This included it affecting stability, security and the development of coastal and inland countries.
“In many instances the effects of transnational organised crime fuels conflicts on the continent. The proceeds of these crimes contribute to a proliferation of small arms and light weapons, protracted conflicts, drugs and human trafficking, terrorism, money laundering and increased mercenary activity.
“To arrest the challenges posed by this phenomenon, it is crucial that a robust, regulatory framework and a co-ordinated and comprehensive approach be developed at national, regional and international levels to address the scourge,” he said.
Nkosi told the Security Council South African security and coastal patrols impounded a number of fishing vessels and arrested “countless people” involved in illegal fishing and abalone poaching in South African waters.
“This denies South Africa millions of dollars of revenue and negatively affects the livelihoods of our coastal communities,” he said.
South Africa works with African countries to develop continental instruments to create an oceanic environment which is safe, secure and environmentally sustainable for the benefit of all the people of Africa.
In co-operation with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the governments of Mozambique, Tanzania and South Africa have entered into a trilateral agreement to counter drug trafficking on maritime routes in the Indian Ocean.
Nkosi said this agreement seeks to intensify maritime surveillance capability, detection of illicit trafficking in the Indian Ocean as well as enhance security at ports and other points of entry in the region.
In addition to these initiatives on the African continent, South Africa is currently chair of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), formed in 1995 and consists of 21 Indian ocean-rim countries from Africa, Asia as well as Australia.
IORA recognises the ocean economy is emerging globally as a common and critical source of growth, innovation and employment creation due to the enormous economic potential it possesses. The association has identified maritime security and safety as a priority.
South Africa is a maritime country with a coastline of over 2 800 kilometres and an exclusive economic zone of 1,54 million square kilometres, straddling the Indian and Atlantic oceans and larger than the country’s land size of 1.2 million square kilometres. About 580 ships are in South African waters every day and annually over 11 000 ships dock in the country’s ports.
South Africa, Nkosi said, welcomed the adoption of Security Council Resolutions in 2017 and 2018 expected to contribute significantly to resolving maritime challenges, specifically off Somalia and affected coastal areas in the Gulf of Guinea.
“These resolutions embody some progressive mechanisms the international community should implement to prevent and counteract maritime crime and maintain international peace and security,” the ambassador said.
South Africa has identified marine protection and governance as a priority under Operation Phakisa, South Africa’s blue economy strategy.
Nkosi said South Africa supports the strengthening the capacity of UN member states’ maritime security to enforce international maritime law.
“The importance of exchanging evidence and information for anti-piracy law enforcement purposes, as well as lessons learnt and best practices sharing between states, international and regional organisations is imperative.
“This ensures structures remain dynamic and the relevant structures, strategies and programmes adapt to align to shifts in global trends,” he said.