NAIROBI – The Sustainable Blue Economy Conference has wrapped up in Nairobi, Kenya with the country’s Cabinet Secretary for Defence, Raychelle Omamo, saying that the conference was an important opportunity for her ministry to draw lessons and practices from as many partners and stakeholders as possible.

She said engagement with the International Organisation for Migration, the EU Programme to Promote Regional Maritime Security in the Eastern and Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Region (MASE) as well as members of the coast guards of Denmark, France, and the United States had shown the importance of a collective approach to security in maritime zones.

“The underlying theme was the need to adopt a multi-sectoral, multi-agency approach; to work beyond silos; and to ensure that the coast guard deals with a multiplicity of threats.”

She also said the states in the Western Indian Ocean could partner with the private sector to benefit from advanced technologies and benefit from the joint purchase of surveillance equipment.

IPS asked Ambassador Omamo if she could explain the connection between security, livelihoods and the protection of marine ecosystems.

“Maritime security, in our view, is an interconnected concept. It connects with human security. It connects with economic security. It connects with knowledge security,” she said.

She gave the example of piracy off the Somali coast, which she said was exacerbated by toxic dumping and illegal fishing by boats from the European Union. This hurt the livelihoods of fishing communities and drove some to criminality on the high seas.

She called for careful attention to the increasingly hybrid origins of threats to maritime security as responses are designed. “The solutions that we bring to the table must be those that deal with not only the manifestation of the threat, but with its underlying causes and that we ensure that our responses are people centred. Because security is first of all about people.”