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Japan set to support deep blue project with $2.4m

THE Japanese government has pledged $2.4 million to fund Nigeria’s ‘Deep Blue Project’ to combat piracy in the Gulf of Guinea’s security infrastructure (GoG).

Dr. Bashir Jamoh, Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), stated this while hosting a delegation from the European Union, led by Ambassador Nicolas Martinez, Senior Coordinator for the Gulf of Guinea, on a working visit to inspect Deep Blue Project assets at the Nigerian Navy Diving School.

The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) recently removed Nigeria from the piracy list, according to Jamoh, as a consequence of the combined efforts of many stakeholders both inside and outside the country.

He went on to say that better intelligence gathering and sharing among all stakeholders contributed significantly to the current results in the country.

“Our Deep Blue Project, the SPOMO Act enacted by the National Assembly, the convictions of criminals under the SPOMO Act, the commitment of the Nigerian Navy and other military arms of the Nigerian Armed Forces, not forgetting the support from the international community, all led to the reduction of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea,” he said.

Martinez, for one, commended the Nigerian government for taking the lead in the Gulf of Guinea in the fight against marine crime, which has generated positive results.

He stated that the EU remains a committed partner to the Gulf of Guinea region, and that it will continue to provide extensive and targeted assistance to strengthen critical aspects of the Yaoundé security architecture, while cementing the long-standing relationship between ECOWAS member states such as Nigeria and the EU.

In recent developments also Chinweizu Amuta, a NIMASA Public Relations Officer, has decried the underfunding and neglect of the fishing industry over the years, leaving it vulnerable to illegal fishing exploitation by foreign vessels, particularly those from China, the European Union, and Belize, which have all illegally exploited Nigerian waters.

Despite the significant contribution that fishing contributes to Nigerians’ livelihoods, according to the House of Representatives, the government loses $70 million each year to illegal fishing.

He cited the loss of license payments, tax money, and the value that could have accrued from legitimate fishing by local vessels as examples.

“The inherent nature of illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing makes it almost impossible to accurately quantify the full global economic impacts resulting from these activities.

“Like most countries in West Africa, Nigeria’s coastal waters contain diverse species of fish, which contribute to the food and economic security of its people. Small-scale fishing operations contribute 80 per cent of locally produced fish and support the livelihoods of 24 million Nigerians with around 73 per cent of those involved in fisheries in Nigeria, being women,” he said.

He went on to say that the NIMASA has taken a more holistic and collaborative approach to fisheries crime in recent years.

Amuta went on to say that after recognizing the necessity for a national maritime security plan to guide and enable inter-agency and regional cooperation,  the agency’s Deep Blue Project included countering IUU fishing as part of its remit.

He also revealed that the nation’s seas will be  safeguarded by deep blue assets from pollution, exploitation, and illegal fishing by unlicensed local and foreign operators.

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