The United Kingdom Ministry of Defence has just completed a week long regional training course in Cape Town focused on the theme of ‘Protecting the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).’
The training brought together representatives from, amongst others, the South African Police Service (SAPS), the Department of Environmental Affairs, the Marine Environmental Law Enforcement Unit, the South African International Maritime Institute and the Angolan and Mozambican Navies. The specialised training covered topics ranging from protecting fisheries and marine resources to search and rescue activities and improving port and border security.
The Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) is the 200 mile area of ocean extending out from the shore line over which a country has exclusive economic control. Including Marion and Prince Edward Islands, South Africa has a coastline that stretches approximately 3 900 kilometres.
The Regional EEZ Course, based on UK experiences, is tailored specifically to foreign attendees and is held at various locations internationally, with longer-duration UK-based courses also available.
Lieutenant Commander Ted Bath (Royal Navy) was the Lead Instructor for the most recent South African Regional EEZ Course. A 40 year veteran of the Royal Navy, he is from the International Commonwealth Training Unit at the Maritime Warfare Training School of the Royal Navy based at HMS Collingwood (Fareham, England). The Maritime Warfare Training School is the Royal Navy’s largest training establishment.
Bath told defenceWeb that the Royal Navy prefers holding regional courses, rather than national courses, because the regional courses provided a larger footprint, in that no one department in a country can solve its maritime issues, nor can one nation solve all its maritime issues on its own.
Having conducted EEZ courses for the past 12 years, Bath notes that it is common for officials from the different maritime departments in a country or region to have never met before. “I try and get people from different environments in the same country together,” he says, “So when there’s a problem, they’re not cold calling, they know who to call.”
“Regionally it’s the same,” he continued, “The course just breaks down those barriers. What we’re trying to do is to get them talking. They can’t do it as a department on their own; they can’t do it as a country on their own. So it’s all about regional solutions.”
Each day is dedicated to a specific topic, with presentations in the morning and group problem solving conducted in the afternoon, whilst a week-long project also requires completion.
The basic building blocks to look after a piece of water, Bath explained, are political will, legislation, assets and command and control. “Without the political will, you’re never going to achieve anything, that’s the driver,” Bath explained.
Underlying the building blocks is sufficient funding. “All the agencies have to have the basic building blocks in place; they have to be able to see the bigger maritime picture.”
Bath says that the response they have received from the courses is “fantastic.”
He has seen many countries, both in Africa and the East, change and adapt their policies and procedures relating to their EEZ as a result of their senior officers and civilian counterparts attending the courses.
“Personally, it’s quite gratifying to see that,” Bath observed.
The representatives of the Angolan and Mozambique navies that defenceWeb spoke to were equally enthusiastic and appreciative of the course, having derived great benefit from their attendance. The officers also noted that their colleagues back home were keen to hear of what they have learnt.
Although the South African Navy was not represented at the most recent course, they have attended previous courses, both locally and abroad.
The British Consulate-General says that the training aims to support the South African government’s Operation Phakisa initiative to develop South Africa’s maritime economy and protect valuable marine resources such as perlemoen (abalone) and deep sea fish stocks which are under continued pressure from poaching syndicates and illegal trawlers.
Wing Commander Kevin Rayner, the Deputy Defence Adviser at the British High Commission, said: “The Royal Navy International Commonwealth Training Unit uses Royal Navy personnel, with operational experience in the busy UK EEZ and international waters, to deliver the Exclusive Economic Zone Export Course.
“South Africa has an excellent initiative in Operation Phakisa and this course is highly complementary to the operation, covering areas such as international law, resource potential, EEZ management, partnering and teamwork between the various organisations and government departments, training and monitoring, control and surveillance of the EEZ. The representation on the course reflects the spectrum of responsibility and the enormity of the task. The British Ministry of Defence has a strong Defence and Security relationship with the Republic of South Africa and this course is just one in a series of regular and mutually beneficial collaborative activities.”
The costs associated with organising and presenting the course is mainly sponsored by the United Kingdom.