ISMI Trains 20 Auditors On Search And Rescue At Sea

By The Nigerian Voice

The Interregional Maritime Security Institute (ISMI) has organized a seminar to build capacity of 20 auditors drawn from MRCC and maritime operations centres operators, crews from the navies in the Southern Gulf of Guinea.

Representatives from eight countries such as Benin, Cameroon with the CMC Zone D, Gabon, Nigeria, Republic of Congo with Cresmac, Democratic Republic of Congo, Côte d'ivoire and France.

The training which is on search and rescue on the sea is taking place on the campus of the regional academy of marine science and technology (ARSTM) in Yopougon, Abidjan from 11th to 15th November, 2019.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, the Director of ISMI, Lazare ABE AKE said the conduct of this training dedicated to search and rescue is worth its weight in gold.

He noted that the gulf of guinea presents major challenges in terms of maritime security. it is one of the busiest maritime crossroads in the world due to the high-risk economic activities that take place there and that can lead to distress.

Lazare ABE AKE said, however, the handling of these distresses at sea requires appropriate rescue responses on the part of coastal states.

According to him, while sea rescue has long been based on the solidarity between seafarers, its organisation is now much more standardised and complies with international conventions that set the framework for it. Thus, the coordination of rescue and maritime search operations, whether carried out by ships or aircraft, cannot be improvised.

Mr Lazare ABE AKE added that training covering both theoretical and practical aspects is essential to acquire the skills and attitudes required to effectively coordinate rescue operations. Hence the holding of this training session which covers the states of the southern gulf of guinea after the one organized last June for the benefit of the states of the western part of the said zone.

He expresses gratitude to the French cooperation, which continues to support their programs, directorate-general of maritime and port affairs for providing experts and its MRRC centre as well as Mr Jen-Pierre Albaret, the main expert of this seminar.

The Regional Coordinator of the State’s Action at Sea, Guillaume DE BEAUREGARD noted that rescue at sea cannot be improvised, it requires technical know-how and a lot of training. To do this, it is important to acquire theoretical knowledge (international and national regulations, procedures, maritime english, notions of marine meteorology, knowledge of the area, etc.), and practical skills (use of nautical charts, implementation of liferafts, use of communication media.

He said, in terms of trade, the gulf of guinea is a strategic area because of its real maritime crossroads between Africa and Europe, America and Asia.

According to him, it is a transit area that connects about ten of the most important ports in the area to the rest of the world.

In the fisheries sector, Guillaume DE BEAUREGARD explains that the gulf of guinea is home to areas with high concentrations of fish stocks. Reserves are estimated at more than one million tonnes.

He added that the gulf of guinea is also an area rich in oil and gas resources. For oil, it is the first in order of importance in Africa.

These, Guillaume DE BEAUREGARD said, the maritime security in the gulf of guinea is no longer a luxury but a real challenge for the entire sub-region. “It is therefore important that the coastal countries of the area are able to provide concrete and effective responses to ships and seafarers when human life is at stake.”

Mr Guillaume DE BEAUREGARD emphasized that following the major maritime disasters, starting with the famous transatlantic ship titanic sunk in 1912, the authorities decided to start organising the rescue at sea. “Fortunately, today there is an international legal framework, most of the time national, which has made it possible, among other things, to set up "search and rescue zones" under the responsibility of states, as well as "search and rescue coordination centres".

According to him, little by little, most states in the gulf of guinea have set up structures of this type to organize rescue at sea in their waters under sovereignty, or even beyond.

He added that for this to work, it is essential that these structures have well-trained people. “That is what we are interested in today, and it is a real challenge.”