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  • Writer's pictureMarie S.

Maritime security: Liberia's Waterway Prospects



Liberia has a significant maritime industry, with its registry ranking second globally in terms of registered vessels. This industry is critical for the country's economy, as it generates substantial revenue from registration fees and other associated services. The safety and security of Liberia's maritime activities are vital for maintaining this industry's growth and stability. This essay will analyze Liberia's maritime security and its relationships with other coastal states and international organizations, including the challenges and opportunities facing the country.


One of the primary concerns regarding maritime security in Liberia is piracy. According to the International Maritime Bureau, piracy incidents in West Africa have increased in recent years, with Nigeria and neighboring countries being the most affected. While Liberia has not experienced significant piracy incidents, the country is still vulnerable to attacks due to its proximity to high-risk areas. The country has taken steps to improve its maritime security, including the establishment of a maritime security unit and the adoption of the Liberia Maritime Security Strategy in 2017.


Another challenge to Liberia's maritime security is illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. This practice, which involves fishing vessels operating without authorization or outside of established regulations, can have significant impacts on marine ecosystems and the livelihoods of local communities. Liberia has made efforts to combat IUU fishing, including the adoption of the Liberian National Plan of Action to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate IUU Fishing in 2016.


Liberia's relationships with other coastal states and international organizations are also essential for its maritime security. The country has established relationships with regional organizations such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Gulf of Guinea Commission to enhance cooperation on maritime security issues. Liberia has also partnered with the United States and other countries to improve its maritime security capabilities.


Liberia's Maritime Industry:


Liberia's maritime industry is a significant contributor to its economy. According to the Liberian International Ship & Corporate Registry (LISCR), Liberia has over 4,000 registered vessels, which account for approximately 12% of the world's fleet. In 2020, the LISCR reported that Liberia's registered vessels generated over $100 million in registration fees alone. The maritime industry also provides employment opportunities for many Liberians, with thousands of individuals working in various roles, including as crew members, port workers, and maritime lawyers.


According to the Liberian Registry, as of December 2021, Liberia has the second-largest ship registry in the world, with over 4,300 vessels and a total tonnage of over 161 million. This represents a significant contribution to the country's economy, as it generates revenue from registration fees and other associated services.


Maritime Security:


The safety and security of Liberia's maritime activities are essential for the country's economic growth and stability. Liberia's geographical location on the West African coast makes it vulnerable to maritime security threats such as piracy, smuggling, and illegal fishing. These threats can disrupt maritime trade and negatively impact the country's economy.


The Liberian government has taken steps to address maritime security threats through various initiatives. In 2017, the government established the Liberia Coast Guard to patrol Liberia's territorial waters and respond to maritime security incidents. The Coast Guard has received support from international organizations, including the United States Africa Command, in terms of training and equipment. Additionally, Liberia has signed maritime security agreements with other coastal states in the region, including Sierra Leone and Cote d'Ivoire, to enhance regional cooperation in addressing maritime security threats.



Relationships with Other Coastal States and International Organizations:


Liberia's relationships with other coastal states and international organizations are crucial for ensuring the safety and security of its maritime activities. Liberia has been an active member of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) since 1959 and has implemented several international maritime conventions, including the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) and the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code.


Liberia has also signed various bilateral agreements with other countries to enhance maritime security cooperation. For example, in 2018, Liberia and Norway signed a Memorandum of Understanding to collaborate on maritime security and environmental protection initiatives. Liberia has also signed agreements with other African countries, including Ghana and Senegal, to promote regional cooperation in maritime security.


Challenges and Opportunities:


While Liberia has made progress in enhancing maritime security and promoting regional cooperation, there are still challenges and opportunities facing the country. One of the main challenges is the lack of resources and infrastructure to effectively monitor and patrol its territorial waters. Additionally, corruption and the illicit transfer of funds from the maritime industry remain issues that need to be addressed.


On the other hand, there are opportunities for Liberia to strengthen its maritime industry and enhance its role as a regional maritime hub. For example, Liberia could leverage its position as a leading flag state to promote sustainable and responsible maritime practices. The country could also explore new areas of growth in the maritime industry, such as offshore oil and gas exploration and renewable energy.


Conclusion:


Liberia's maritime industry is a critical contributor to the country's economy, and ensuring its safety and security is essential for maintaining its growth and stability. The Liberian government has taken steps to address maritime security threats and enhance cooperation with other coastal states and international organizations. However, there are still challenges that need to be addressed, including the lack of resources and infrastructure and the issues of corruption and illicit transfer of funds. Liberia has opportunities

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