COMBINED Maritime Forces (CMF) have participated in the Maritime Security in Africa – Beyond Piracy conference in Copenhagen on 2 May 2018 to share valuable lessons learnt by the coalition, and gain insight from a number of key global delegates.
The conference, attended by hundreds of delegates from around the world, was organised by the University of Copenhagen to discuss maritime issues on both the East and West coasts of Africa. During the event, Commander (Cdr) Alexander Meyer Royal Navy, representing CMF, spoke about the maritime security issues currently being experienced off the Horn of Africa, noting that piracy had been largely supressed but there was still a very large role to be played in disrupting smuggling, specifically drugs, weapons and charcoal, in order to deny the mechanisms by which terrorist organisations raise their funds.
The event was an excellent opportunity for CMF to raise its profile in Europe and expose the wider remit that the organisation deals with on a daily basis. It was also extremely useful to share knowledge about maritime security with such a wide and experienced audience, with one of the main insights gained for CMF being the scale and effects of illegal fishing around the world, expanding our knowledge away from the African coastline.
Cdr Meyer also discussed the effect of ‘sea blindness’, where even the general population of countries with a strong maritime history and considerable coastline, such as Denmark and the UK, can be unaware of the scale of illegal activities their Navies and Coastguards are working to prevent. Quite often, unusual situations are the triggers for raising awareness, and to put this into context, Cdr Meyer gave an example: “For the general public, one of the first times they were made aware of the effects of modern piracy to shipping was about 2008. It just so happened that the merchant vessel bringing the first generation of the PlayStation 2s to Europe had been captured by pirates off Somalia, preventing families from receiving their PlayStations in time for Christmas.”
Over the course of the conference, new relationships were formed with several organisations, including the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and various industry intelligence agencies, resulting in closer collaboration and a drive for improvements in information sharing.
CMF remains committed to continued participation in maritime security conferences, and wider information sharing throughout organisations working towards the common goal of maritime security. Already consisting of 32 nations working together for a common purpose, the organisation is always keen to expand its membership and contributions from other sources, working to maximise the effectiveness of its Maritime Security Operations.