The maritime environment is under siege whilst the ecosystem is under threat from over exploitation and illegal dumping. Maritime security is also threatened by the smuggling of drugs and contraband, human traffickers, pirates and terrorists.
This was said by Rear Admiral Peter Vilho, who was addressing naval chiefs and captains during the 22nd annual meeting of the Standing Maritime Committee of the Inter-State Defence and Security Committee that started in Swakopmund on Monday.
Nine SADC countries are meeting to deliberate on ways to effectively and collectively end illegal activities in African waters.
The Standing Maritime Committee is entrusted to ensure safe, secure and peaceful regional maritime affairs. Vilho, who is representing Namibia, is the chairperson of the committee. He said despite the challenges facing the maritime industry the member states are fully committed to work collectively and unwaveringly towards those objectives.
“Bearing in mind the challenges confronting us our presence here today is a clear demonstration of our governments’ collective and unwavering commitment to ensure safe and peaceful regional maritime affairs,” he said.
“The importance of the sea to mankind is indisputable, as it is a vital component of the earth’s ecosystem. Nearly one billion people worldwide rely on oceans and rivers as a major source of nutrition and income. The bad news is that it is under siege. Therefore, cooperation between the regional navies and other maritime role players in their countries is a must,” he said.
The five-day conference also considered ways to strengthen and ensure a safe, secure and peaceful regional maritime environment. He said the Protocol on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, the Strategic Indicative Plan of the SADC Mutual Defence Pact and the SADC Standby Brigade are indications that the naval forces’ primary security issues are so closely linked that individual nations’ security cannot be achieved in isolation.
Vilho appealed to the delegates to work together and devise workable solutions that will promote maritime safety and security. “We may not be able to do everything that is expected of us. However, information-sharing, joint patrols training and inter-operability will take us a long way in fulfilling the requirements of our mandate,” he said.