NAIROBI, Nov. 28 (Xinhua) -- Securing Africa's abundant marine resources from emerging threats like illegal fishing, piracy and dumping of toxic waste is key to hastening growth of the continent's nascent blue economy, experts said on Wednesday in Nairobi.
The security experts, who spoke at a side event on maritime safety during an international meeting on blue economy, said that African countries that are endowed with vast coastlines should intensify vigilance against man-made and environmental threats.
Raychelle Omamo, Kenya's cabinet secretary for defense, said there is a consensus among African nations on the need to strengthen their maritime security as they embark on revitalizing the key blue economy pillars that include fisheries, tourism and shipping.
"We are convinced that securing our oceans and other marine resources is critical to the growth of blue economy. Safety in our sea lines will facilitate cross-border trade and mineral exploration," Omamo said.
She urged harmonization of policies, capacity-building, knowledge and information sharing to boost safety of oceans and mangrove forests that are key to food security, climate resilience and job creation in Africa.
"Coordination of our coast guards is critical to secure our marine resources and pave way for the blue economy to take off," Omamo said, adding that Kenya's recently launched coast guard marked a milestone in the country's quest to become a blue-economy hub.
Michelle Stallone, a maritime security expert, said that a motivated coast guard is key to combating illegal fishing and plunder of mangrove forests that are a threat to growth of blue economy in sub-Saharan Africa.
"Safety in the oceans will enable governments and local communities carry out fishing and seabed mining that will support the next phase of industrialization in Africa," Stallone said.
Daya Bragante, a blue economy specialist at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, said robust collaboration among governments, industries and local communities is key to strengthening protection of Africa's marine ecosystem amid threats linked to population pressure, over-exploitation and climate change.