SMC agenda to be presented at IONS


The Southern African Development Community’s (SADC’s) Standing Maritime Committee (SMC) will present their common SADC maritime security agenda at the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) in Cape Town. The safety and security agenda was adopted at the SMC’s conference last month.

The third Indian Ocean Naval Symposium will be held in Cape Town from 10 to 13 April. It is considered to be one of the biggest and most important maritime conferences to be held in the region and will aim to enhance maritime security and cooperation in the Indian Ocean. President Jacob Zuma has been invited to address this high-level event, which will be attended by the chiefs of navies from all Indian Ocean region states.

The theme for this year’s symposium is regional maritime security initiatives aimed at reducing modern maritime security threats. A variety of issues will be discussed at the symposium, including the commercial value of the Indian Ocean, regional cooperation, transnational crime, piracy and nautical law.

Some of the issues that will most likely be discussed at IONS include piracy, the presence of armed guards on ships, illegal dumping, human trafficking, gun running, oil spills, pollution and drug smuggling.

Many of these issues were discussed by the SMC last month in Durban, which highlighted other maritime threats including the unauthorised entry of ships into ports, smuggling of plants and animals, tax evasion and the movement of illicit and counterfeit goods, sailing and fishing in unauthorised areas and the discharging of waste at sea.
“Whoever controls the sea controls the world,” said Major General Saidi Shabani Omar, commander of the Tanzanian navy. “If it is left like this it means pirates will control the sea and therefore the world.” He said that piracy was affecting Tanzania, with a third fewer ships entering Dar es Salaam port due to pirate activity, thus increasing the cost of living and commodities. Oil exploration has recently begun in Mozambique and Tanzania, but explorers require protection from pirates, which is very expensive. “The biggest impact of piracy is economic,” Omar said.

It has been estimated that piracy costs the global economy between US$7 and US$12 billion per year, mainly due to insurance, which has in some cases gone up tenfold, the cost of protection and the rerouting of ships.

Piracy has “cost us a lot of economic hardship,” especially as 80% of economic trade in South Africa is conducted through the sea, said Vice Admiral Refiloe J Mudimu, who chaired the SMC.