ANCORS plays leading role in Australia’s engagement with Africa
Reflecting the truly global character of the World Ocean, ANCORS (Australian Centre for Ocean Resources and Security) continues to expand the geographical scope of its capacity-building programs.
Two four-week short course programs in Ocean Governance and Maritime Security have been developed and are currently being delivered by ANCORS for the East Africa/western Indian Ocean and West Africa/Gulf of Guinea regions.
Funded by AusAID, the courses were officially announced on behalf of the Australian Government by Warren Snowden, MP, acting for the Minister for Defence, Stephen Smith, at a Perth counter-piracy conference back in July:http://www.minister.defence.gov.au/2012/07/16/paper-presented-by-warren-snowdon-mp-on-behalf-of-stephen-smith-minister-for-defence-to-the-perth-counter-piracy-conference/
Research Fellow with ANCORS, Dr Chris Rahman, said the two courses play a significant role in Australia’s deepening diplomatic and economic engagement with Africa, and reflect a growing acknowledgement of the importance of the seas and oceans to national and regional security, economic well-being and sustainable development.
ANCORS’ demonstrated expertise and the content of the two courses correlate closely with the AusAID development assistance priorities for Africa of peace and stability, food security and natural resource management, Dr Rahman said.
Dr Rahman said both regions suffer from daunting challenges to good order at sea, from the depredations of Somali pirates in the western Indian Ocean to burgeoning attacks against vessels and offshore infrastructure by pirates and insurgent groups in the Gulf of Guinea, where drug smuggling, toxic waste dumping at sea and other illegal activity is rife.
In both regions illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing is a major problem, while a limited local capacity to address broader challenges of marine environmental protection and ocean management also threaten to undermine good order at sea.
“Increasingly, marine environmental management, maritime security and economic development of offshore and coastal resources are becoming closely interconnected in both African regions. The courses build a broad knowledge framework to guide policymakers and enforcement officers in tackling the problems, covering areas such as the law of the sea, ocean governance and environmental management, fisheries enforcement, and piracy and maritime security.”
The first course was held during October for 26 participants from the East African/western Indian Ocean states of Comoros, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles and Tanzania. The West Africa course is being delivered during November with 27 participants from Benin, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, São Tomé and Príncipe, and Togo.
The participants are drawn from a wide range of professional backgrounds, including foreign ministries; attorneys-general departments; maritime administrations, transport and ports; navies and coast guards; police; immigration; environment departments; and fisheries. Both courses have included day trips to Border Protection Command in Canberra and the Jervis Bay Marine Park.
While the focus regions for ANCORS’ capacity-building programs have traditionally been Southeast Asia and the Southwest Pacific, the African courses follow on closely from recent programs for South Asian Indian Ocean countries and the Caribbean.
“Africa, in particular, has become a major focus area for ANCORS, including for its research activities, with further developments planned for 2013.
“ANCORS’ unique blend of policy and operationally-relevant research, education and training expertise continues to spread the University of Wollongong’s strong reputation around the globe,” Dr Rahman said.