Minister of State Agriculture and Rural Development and the current president of the Fisheries Committee for the West Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC), Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, has urged member countries of the West African sub region to ensure that all vessels plying the coastal waters of the region must install the Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) device for proper tracking of the vessels by the maritime security agents as a way of curbing the incessant incidences of piracy in the sub region.
In addition, Lokpobiri advised that all vessels in the sub region must also be made to install an Automatic Identification System (AIS) and the Transponder device for easy and proper communication.
According to the minister, with these equipment in place, it will be easy for the vessels to be under the radar of the maritime security agencies for proper monitoring and tracking of the activities of the vessels.
Lokpobiri gave these hints when he received the secretary general of FCWC, Dr Seraphin Dedi who visited him in his office in Abuja at the weekend to brief him about the activities and the proposed ministers’ conference of the Committee billed for Togo in November.
The minister spoke following the complaint by Dedi that a fishing vessel was recently hacked in the Ghanaian waters by some pirates and taken away to the Nigerian waters, where three Korean nationals were eventually adducted by the pirates.
Lokpobiri stated that, “The fact that pirates went to Ghana, hijacked a vessel and it could not be recovered calls for more collective collaboration on how we can strengthen our synergy and to enable us achieve the objectives of the FCWC.”
According to Lokpobiri, if the vessel in question had had all the necessary devices in place, it would have been easy for the Nigerian Navy to track it and avert the abduction.
Lokpobiri regretted that the whole lot of illegal activities going on, where people just come to our waters and after fishing they tranship to another ship and there is no record of what they have taken from our artisanal waters is one major challenge we need to take on in Nigeria and the member states of the sub region.