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Nigeria Records Zero Piracy in 24 Months, Gets UN Continental Shelf Award

By Patience Chat Moses

After several years of being blacklisted and a War Risk Insurance (WRI) status slammed on Nigeria due to frequent attacks on sea vessels, the United Nations (UN) have awarded the country a larger continental shelf after recording 24 months of zero piracy in its continental shelf. The award was revealed in Elele Military Base by Dayo Mobereola, the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration Agency (NIMASA), in Rivers State.

Mobereola said such feat was very remarkable because of the huge impact in the economy especially the push for a deepened blue economy.

The DG said the task of winning back the confidence of the international maritime community. He noted that the Minister of Defence and that of the Blue Economy have worked to sustain the new rating of Nigeria.

The federal government through NIMASA came up with the Deep Blue Project which created a command from the Navy, Air Force, Army, and the Police with special equipment and specialized training by foreigners to confront the seas and territorial waters. This led to some appreciable gains which led to the zero incidence rating and removal of Nigeria out of the risk zones.

Speaking at the graduation of another batch of Special Forces at Elele Military Base, the Minister said the project is dear to the Agency. He recalled milestones gained in Maritime security saying the graduands will add to those already in the waters defending the nation.

He said the target and aim were to make Nigeria a Maritime nation with special mission assets on hand. He emphasized on the roles so far played by the Ministers of Defence and that of the Blue Economy, but requested for continued support to cover the larger continental shelf awarded Nigeria by the global body.

In light of this achievement, Mobereola also revealed the agency’s plan to review the existing Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) it signed with its Navy partners. Speaking during the visit of Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla, to NIMASA headquarters in Lagos, Mobereola said the idea was to look into more areas of partnership with the Navy.

He assured the Navy of the continuous support of NIMASA towards the overall benefit of the country. “Your visit has confirmed your commitment to the NIMASA and Nigerian Navy collaboration. Nigeria’s attainment of zero piracy reports in recent times is a result of the support of the Navy. Security is critical to unlocking the nation’s maritime potential as a well-secured maritime domain will be a catalyst to attracting foreign investment into Nigeria,” the NIMASA DG said.

He commended the recent addition of 20 nautical miles to Nigeria’s Exclusive Economic Zone and described it as a call for more responsibility for both agencies.

Meanwhile, Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla, said there is a need to achieve sustainable security in the Nigerian maritime domain. Ogalla acknowledged the efforts of NIMASA in implementing both national and international regulatory instruments to improve safety and security in the maritime domain. He said the Nigerian Navy under his leadership is committed to supporting NIMASA to succeed.

“Our collaboration with NIMASA is to achieve a common goal of better securing the maritime domain, thus promoting an enabling environment for business to thrive with a multiplier effect of improved contributions to the Gross Domestic Product from the maritime industry. Our role as prescribed by the Armed Forces Act is for the Navy to coordinate the enforcement of all maritime laws in Nigeria,” he said.

He lauded the Agency for the stride recorded toward implementing the Cabotage Act for the benefit of indigenous ship owners. While pledging that the Navy will improve support for the Cabotage regime to succeed, he said, the focus is to have better cooperation and to enhance information sharing.

A continental shelf is the edge of a continent that lies under the ocean, stretching from the coastline to a drop-off point called the shelf break. It is where a continent meets the ocean floor.

The shelf is usually quite wide, with an average width of 80 kilometers (50 miles), and is made up of thick sediments deposited by turbidity currents. The outer edge of the shelf is called the shelf break, where the continental slope begins. The continental shelf is home to a diverse range of marine life, due to the sunlight and shallow waters.

The UN Continental Shelf Award is related to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS), which is a body of experts established under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

The CLCS considers submissions from coastal states regarding the outer limits of their continental shelves beyond 200 nautical miles and provides recommendations based on scientific and technical criteria. The recommendations aim to establish the outer limits of a coastal state’s continental shelf, which can impact maritime boundaries and resource claims.

The award can have significant implications for the exploitation of natural resources, such as oil, gas, and minerals, within the extended Continental Shelf area.

This ensures that the higher insurance rates on vessels coming to Nigeria’s continental area as War Risk Insurance (WRI) will be cut out and also provide an avenue to increase the country’s economic wealth.

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