transforming west africas coast the impact of technology on piracy and illegal fishing

Transforming West Africa’s Coast: The Impact of Technology on Piracy and Illegal Fishing

A coastal region that extends from Senegal to Angola is rich in hydrocarbon, mineral, and fisheries resources. It is also a crucial route for international trade, which is essential for the development of countries in the region. However, for a long time, countries in the Gulf of Guinea have not effectively monitored activities in their waters, allowing security threats to thrive. These threats include illegal fishing, drug trafficking, piracy, armed robbery, and toxic waste dumping.

To address these challenges, regional action has been taken, including the signing of the Yaoundé Code of Conduct in 2013. This agreement aims to promote cooperation among countries in addressing maritime security threats.

Since the signing of the Yaoundé Code of Conduct, technology-driven tools have played a significant role in addressing security threats in the waters of West and Central African countries. These tools have helped countries efficiently manage and monitor the marine environment, facilitate information sharing among law enforcement agencies, and enable successful interdictions and prosecution of criminals.

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Various tools and systems, such as Radar, Yaoundé Architecture Regional Information System (Yaris), Sea-Vision, Skylight, and Global Fishing Watch, integrate surveillance and location monitoring systems, as well as satellite data, to identify suspicious behavior and improve efforts to combat security threats.

Nigeria is an example of a country that has made significant advancements in using technology to enhance maritime security. Investments have been made in tech-based infrastructure, including the deployment of the Regional Maritime Awareness Capability facility and the mass surveillance FALCON EYE system.

While technology has shown promise in enhancing safety and security at sea, there are challenges to overcome. These include the need for sustainable funding for technological projects, the availability of skilled personnel to operate the technology, the vulnerability of existing monitoring systems, communication difficulties, and the lack of trust and cooperation among private operators and regional solutions.

Cooperation and coordination among Atlantic nations, along with the enhancement of technological capabilities and the utilization of available services, are crucial steps toward achieving a secure and collaborative maritime environment.