The Centre for Maritime Law and Security (CEMLAWS) Africa has called on the government to endorse and facilitate the implementation of the National Integrated Maritime Strategy (NIMS) to enhance Ghana's maritime fortunes.
The National Integrated Maritime Strategy is a document that is a key outcome of the Security Governance Initiative (SGI), developed by an inter-agency maritime working group with technical support from CEMLAWS and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
It was funded by the Kingdom of Denmark to serve as a consolidated framework for the maritime domain to promote the sustainability and security of Ghana's blue economy.
Mr Godfred Sowah Khartey, a Fellow at CEMLAWS, stated during the discussion that the government knew the importance of the blue economy to the general economy of Ghana and would therefore endorse the document.
Mr Khartey said they were waiting for the government to endorse NIMS.
He said NIMS implementation was based on six strategic objectives, which were the strengthening of the framework for maritime governance, ensuring the safety and security of Ghana's maritime domain.
It was also to develop a thriving blue economy, protecting the marine and coastal environment, promote capacity building, research, awareness, and knowledge sharing in the maritime domain, and the development of a dynamic and diversified regional and international cooperation.
He said the NIMS took into consideration piracy and armed robbery at sea, marine conservation, IUU fishing and the livelihood of coastal communities.
Mr Khartey explained "just as we identify the challenges emerging from ocean activities, so do we identify its prospects. The NIMS wants to get the blue economy running.
"Because with a thriving blue economy, jobs are created, poverty is eliminated and crime such as piracy is reduced."
He said the implementation of the NIMS would be done in a bottom-up approach, including necessary parties and people living in the coastal communities.
Ms Stephanie Lolk Larsen, a Research Officer at CEMLAWS, on her part said a key objective of the NIMS was to promote an inter-agency approach.
"There are so many players and stakeholders within Ghana's maritime industry. One of the central points is to create a way of harmonising their mandates and ways of operating to achieve the objectives of the NIMS," she said.
Dr Kofi Mbiah, a Maritime Law Consultant and Legal Practitioner at Alliance Partners, noted that political will was of utmost importance to the sustainability of the National Integrated Maritime Strategy.
He said, "political will is critical, this plan can be put in a glossy document with all the fine details but if we don't execute for the rational expected outcome, then it will be an exercise in futility."
He acknowledged the comprehensiveness of the NIMS and highlighted the significance of integration in its implementation.
"In the blue economy, you have fisheries, oil and gas, tourism, commercial shipping, port services and at the same time there is the issue of protection of marine life and security of the marine environment.
"It is important for this strategy to take into consideration all these focal points so that we can draw synergies from the complementarities that exist."
Dr Mbiah, a former Executive Director of the Ghana Shippers Authority, called for regional collaboration for the success of the NIMS in maritime security and ocean governance.
He also called for the establishment of a defined legal framework that would complement the administrative and operational roles of the various organizations to avoid overlaps or gaps during its implementation.