UNITAR, Norway seek marine safety, fisheries protection

L-R:Director, Nigerian Institute for Oceanography and Marine Research, Dr. Parcy Obatola; Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside; Norwegian Ambassador to Nigeria, Jens-Petter Kjemprud; and representative of the Lagos State Commissioner for Agriculture, Emmanuel Audu at the conference.

The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) Nigeria Office has announced plans to introduce a Masters Programme in Maritime Governance, which would be launched in partnership with the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences.

This was disclosed by the Head/Resident Representative of UNITAR Nigeria, Dr Larry Boms at a two-day regional conference on Marine Safety and Fisheries Protection, which held in Lagos.

According to Boms, when launched, the programme will enable professionals from the maritime sector in Nigeria and other African countries to hone their skills in different modules central to the effective maritime operation.

This is coming on the heels of the recently introduced specialised degree programme in Petroleum and Mechanical Engineering, which is preparing some Nigerians for bachelors qualifications in Mechanical Engineering with an emphasis in Petroleum Technology and Marine Construction at Haugesund University College now Western Norway University of Applied Sciences. The programme will soon conclude with the graduation of the first set of enrolled students.

This was made possible by the mutual relationship between the Norwegian Embassy in Nigeria and UNITAR. Besides, the Norwegian Embassy-UNITAR collaborations, with the support of other partners, have led to the development of capacities in training fields such as technical training for employment generation in the oil and gas sector and other allied fields; capacity training for health officials from oil communities; and health, safety & environment workshops for professionals in the maritime sector.

The Norwegian Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Jens-Petter Kjemprud, said their commitment to the development of Nigeria was the reason they are partners to the conference.

He said: “The worst oil spill in Norwegian history – the Ekofisk Bravo in 1977 – which is the first serious uncontrolled oil blowout offshore, exposed serious deficiencies in the country’s defence against such pollution and an America specialist had to be called upon to kill the well.

“In this part of the world along the coast from South Africa to Nigeria, a handful of incidents have happened at sea over the years, most of them because of accidents with oil tankers outside South Africa, one of the busiest ship routes in the world and among them over 3.000 oil tankers a year.

“One ship alone, ABT Summer, outside Angola in 1991, resulted in a loss of 260,000 tonnes of oil at sea. I can also mention the Katalina P accident outside Mauto resulting in serious damage to the beaches in the capital. Accidents have also happened at offshore installations as the Bonga accident 2011 in this country.

“This is why the conference will provide opportunity to deliberate on how to strengthen regional cooperation when huge accidents occur, discuss how national contingency plans can be followed up to invest in relevant equipment, and training, and facilitate discussions between public and private sectors to enhance effective oil spill prevention and responses through mechanical means.”

Some of the expert papers presented at the conference include Managing exploitation of marine resources – Contribution of the EAF-Nansen programme to the necessary knowledge base by Dr. Kwame Koranteng from EAF-Nansen programme in FAO, Rome; Marine resources conservation: Role of Abidjan Protocol and follow-up by Dr. P.O. Obatola, Director, Fisheries Resources Department at the Nigerian Institute for Oceanography and Marine Research; the Global Initiative for West, Central and Southern Africa (GI WACAF) project on oil spill preparedness, response and cooperation by Clement Chazot; and Achieving Abidjan convention objectives through compulsory insurance by Khalid Momodu for YOA Insurance Brokers.

For Boms, the regional conference on marine safety and fisheries protection is another milestone in the history of the beneficial partnership between the Norwegian government and UNITAR, which is offering new opportunities for the entire West, Central, and Southern African region in the area of promoting economic development, addressing environmental problems, enhancing food security, and promoting health, which are key issues that must be tackled to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals 2030.

“There are great benefits for the entire region if the abundant economic opportunities existing in the area spreading across the Gulf of Guinea to the Cape in South Africa are tapped sustainably. According to statistics, the region accounts for 3,000 ships passing annually with an estimated 140 million tonnes of oil. The combination of oil, marine resources and shipping can help propel economic prosperity in beneficial ways for businesses, government, and the people.”

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Larry BomsUNITAR


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