Olu Akinsoji's thoughts on IUU fishing in Nigeria

Engr. Olu Akinsoji
By Olu Akinsoji
Let me support Margaret Orakwusi on her insistence on government action against poaching (See here)  in our territorial and exclusive economic zone EEZ. 
From her observation and expressions it appears poaching, that is Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing activities have continue to increase proportionately with our economic activities.

I feel worried because this undesirable issue came up about 30 years ago when I was the district engineer surveyor in charge of Lagos and its environs.

The question is which authority is responsible for the associated persistent economic leakage or the sovereign laxity?

Sometime ago, say about 19 years, this economic leakage was considered at ministerial level along with the enormous crude oil related IUU and other unlawful acts against merchant ships, to propose a critical look at the security control of our coast (territorial and EEZ).

That was done with a view to achieving an effective structure that will allow peaceful, efficient, accountable and sustainable control of the economic activities in our waters. 

Nigeria has out-grown the inherited numerous structures of different authorities in the marine environment. 

In fact, the number of security control units continue to increase over the years as we attempt to solve challenges arising from one type of security or another.

My humble suggestion as we resolved many years ago, is to harmonise all marine security related patrol units of all the relevant authorities with their resources into one command, say Nigerian Coast Guard (NCG) with powers to arrest and prosecute.

It should include relevant units of Navy, NIMASA, marine police, custom,   special security units etc.

We need a meaningful structure to execute the abundant laws of the state just as we also need it for fruitful foreign assistance and cooperation.

The maritime industry environment is now large enough to have a unified law enforcement agency that is friendly and clearly understood by stakeholders.

The earlier we consider this reform the better. It will not adversely affect the status of the existing agencies.

Olu Akinsoji is a renowned Marine Engineer.