African countries agreed June 1 to integrate their shipping fleets with the Automated Identification System (AIS) to combat insecurity and plundering of the continent’s sea resources.Baby steps...
It was one of several commitments made by representatives of 38 African states at the end of the second international conference on maritime security in Africa, being held in Abuja.
”Each country is to ensure that they are integrated into the AIS as such as soon as possible in order to enhance the establishment of a continental wide maritime communication system,” a text released at the end of the meeting said.
It was one of 14 resolutions adopted by delegates, which also included the establishment of four naval task groups to boost the military capacity of the Africa Union.
Adm. Harry Ulrich, commander of U.S. naval forces in Europe and Africa, earlier urged African countries to equip themselves with the AIS as a cheap way to boost security in some of the world’s most dangerous seas for piracy.
”The AIS is very low in cost, and when paired with coastal radars, contribute to improved data management” on ships that navigate the territorial waters, he told the conference.
”The United Nations and the International Maritime organization mandate that ships of 300 tons or more have a small transmitter that continuously broadcasts where a ship is, where it is coming, its destination, its crew, who is complying with the rules or is below the AIS tonnage mandate,” he said.
Ulrich advocated a management system of movements of non-military ships, comparable to that practiced in air traffic, controlled by international norms accepted by all.
UPDATE: Some issues regarding AIS identified here.