Maritime security must expand its scope beyond the traditional threats of illicit drugs and arms trafficking to include economic enablers that contribute to the blue economy.
This was one of the points highlighted as the Regional Security System (RSS) and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) launched the development of a Maritime Security Strategy for the RSS project at the Radisson Aquatica Resort Barbados on Wednesday.
Speaking during the opening ceremony for the two-day workshop, Director of the Coastal Zone Management Unit, Dr. Leo Brewster, said the marine space had great potential to boost Caribbean economies, through the facilitation of trade, exploration of oil and gas and the harvesting of living resources.
“Given the significant importance of the marine areas in economic development, and the diverse nature in which this domain can be leveraged for the attainment of national security, there is a need to achieve greater coherence and coordination across the myriad stakeholders and competing interests within the social, economic and environmental pillars in nation-states, and by extension the Caribbean region,” he said.
Dr. Brewster suggested that this could be done through the adoption of an ocean governance framework and maritime security strategies to properly chart the way to manage maritime resources and delineate a path for improving coordination of maritime security cooperation.
Executive Director of the RSS, Captain Errington Shurland, also stressed that development and security go “hand-in-hand”, as there could be no sustainable development without security, sustainability and peace.
“Our maritime space is a source for economic development that needs to be secured for the benefit of generations to come. It is notable that maritime security is not simply about law enforcement and governance of a territorial sea or exclusive economic zone. It is about unlocking the growth potential of the blue economy,” he said.
He added that the oceans had tremendous potential for boosting economic growth, employment and innovation as the blue economy encompasses ocean-based industries such as shipping, fisheries, renewable energies, maritime transportation, sea ports, tourism and marine biotechnology as well as its natural assets, such as carbon dioxide absorption.
“Thus, an expanded blue economy will create greater demand for maritime security capabilities,” he said, noting that maritime security was viewed as the enabler of the blue economy through safeguarding navigation routes and protecting rights over valuable marine resources and activities within claimed zones of maritime jurisdiction.
The Executive Director also pointed out that the national and regional maritime security strategies would complement the work being done by states as they sought to develop the blue economy.
Meanwhile, Director of Projects at the CDB, Daniel Best, said the regional strategy, which was financed by the CDB to the tune of US$338,000, would include a capacity building and training plan for the region to align assistance and programming from national, regional and international partners.
He added that the national and regional strategies would also assist with better coordination between the various organizations and actors responsible for the seas and oceans.
“For us in this sub-region, maritime security is an important regional public good, since our vast maritime domain and overlapping exclusive economic zones render it impossible for us to effectively protect and manage our marine space individually,” he said, noting that the common maritime space facilitated over 90 per cent of the movement of goods within the sub-region.