Ghana will give priority attention to the prevention of the pollution of the marine environment, consistent with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and International Maritime Organisation (IMO) regulations, the Minister of Transport, Mr Kwaku Ofori Asiamah, has said.
He said the world’s coastal waters and oceans are deteriorating due to increasing coastal development, pollution from ships, land-based sources of pollution and other threats that required countries to implement global instruments and ensure that the requisite legislation was in place and effectively enforced.
Mr Asiamah was speaking at the opening of a five-day regional workshop for marine experts from nine countries in West and Central Africa.
The workshop, organised by the IMO, in collaboration with the Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA), is being attended by participants from Ghana Cape Verde, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Nigeria, Liberia and Sao Tome and Principe.
It will focus on deepening the understanding of participants in the 1996 Protocol on the Convention of Marine Pollution, (also known as the London Convention), the International Convention on the Control of Harmful Anti-fouling Systems on Ships (AFS) and the Bio-fouling Guidelines.
At the end of the workshop, participants, representing maritime administrations within West and Central African sub-regions, will build their capacity to prevent marine pollution, while they update their knowledge on their responsibilities towards the ratification and implementation of the international instruments in their various countries.
Mr Asiamah said as part of Ghana’s commitment to global efforts towards the protection of the marine environment from pollution, it had ratified the London Convention and incorporated its provisions into the nation’s Marine Pollution Act (Act 932), which was passed in 2016.
He urged the countries that had not yet ratified or acceded to the international conventions to take urgent steps to do so.
A Technical Officer of the London Convention and the Protocol and Ocean Affairs Marine Environment Division of the IMO, Mr Fredrik Haag, said if current marine pollution trends continued, it would have severe consequences for marine plants, animals and humans.
The conventions and regulations, he said, were aimed at protecting the oceans from the harmful impact of human activities and making sure resources, such as fresh fish, sea food and clean beaches, were enjoyed not just by the current generation but also posterity.
In the past two years, Mr Haag said, the global community had shown true determination to protect the oceans by adopting the 2030 agenda for SDGs for the oceans aimed at conserving the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.
Next month, he said, the global efforts would culminate in a high-level United Nations Oceans Conference in New York, with leaders and practitioners from around the world coming together to pledge their commitment to save the oceans.
In his remarks, the Director-General of the Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA), Mr Kwame Owusu, said the oceans had been used as dumping ground for waste generated by humans, with little thought for the consequences of such an action.
The Chairman for the event, the Vice-Chancellor of the Regional Maritime University, Mr Elvis Nyarko, said there had been an increase in global maritime activities in recent times.
The increase in those activities, he said, came with challenges, including pollution of the oceans, which needed to be addressed.