Cameroon Navy / Marina camerunense
The naval forces began with a detachment of thirteen naval gendarmes who had gained some experience in the preindependence coastal police force, the Naval Gendarmerie (Marine de Gendarmerie). In 1962 the navy had about 150 men, one small boat, and several small landing ships, which were useful for training. A patrol boat was acquired in 1964 and two more by 1972. Missions in 1973 included coastal patrols (to discourage smuggling), rescue work, and service trips to areas difficult to reach by other means of transport.
There are about 1,100 troops in the navy including naval infantry. Cameroon's Marine Nationale République modernised and increased its capabilities during 2000 with the acquisition of a number of small Rodman patrol craft and the retirement of some small older craft. Cameroon’s navy is relatively well equipped in order to secure Cameroon’s oil installations and prevent maritime crime and is optimised for coastal and river patrol, especially in light of rising levels of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea. It had around 40 coastal, inshore and river patrol craft as well as several combat patrol vessels.
The Spanish OPV ‘Atalaya’ deployed in Western Africa and conducted a series of cooperation exercises with the National Navy of Cameroon between 28 March and 08 April 2016. The training activities were divided into two phases: the first one was organized in port in areas related to damage control, medical issues, maritime action and diving. The second phase was conducted at sea putting into practice the lessons learned the previous days. During the training period at sea, two patrol boats from the National Navy collaborated in maritime surveillance tasks in coordination with the Maritime Operations Centre in Douala to enhance the maritime situational awareness of the Cameroonian Navy in its own maritime domain and territorial waters. Three officers embarked on board the Spanish OPV to get acquainted with standard procedures of maritime surveillance techniques.
In July 2016 A Chinese ship was arrested for illegal fishing off Limbe in the South West Region of Cameroon. The Vessel named Yang I was recently arrested by elements of the Cameroonian Navy and a team from the Ministry of Livestock, Fisheries and Animal Industries (MINEPIA), off the seaside town of Limbe located in the southwestern region of the country. According to the Cameroonian authorities, besides practising illegal fishing, the ship was using non-compliant fishing nets.
Statistics revealed by the Technical Committee of the Regional Commission for Fisheries in the Gulf of Guinea (COREP) on 14 April 2016 in Yaoundé,indicates that no fewer than 12 fishing vessels belonging to foreign nationals were nabbed in 2015 off the coast of Cameroon for illegal fishing activities. A year earlier, 10 ships were seized thanks to the Cameroonian patrol.
Cameroon deployed its navy to seize illegal fishing vessels off the country’s southwestern coast. Tensions had risen there as local communities said foreign trawlers are fishing in protected areas and destroying resources. Armed sailors of Cameroon's navy searched the high seas off the central African state's Atlantic coast for illegal fishing boats scooping up large amounts of sealife for export.
Lieutenant Colonel Emmanuel Sone, the highest navy official in southwest Cameroon, said within the first two weeks of October 2016, the navy had seized six Chinese vessels with crews from China and Cameroon. "The evidence was clear. These people were catching species that were prohibited within our waters," he said. "Last night, when the maritime patrol was out there, they actually found more vessels than these ones. Just to tell you that the illegal activities in our waters is just too much and even though we are doing our best to carry out the operation, it is not enough for now."
Cameroon's most senior fishery official based in the southwest, Walters Ndi, said some of the Chinese have registered under Cameroonian businesses, but refuse to respect fishing norms. "For industrial fishing, fishing vessels are not supposed to go beyond three nautical miles from the coastal areas," he said. "These areas are areas that the artisan fishermen can carry out their normal activities without any conflicts. These are areas for reproduction, so for sustainable management of our fishing resources, industrial fishermen are not supposed to go there because that is where we have the majority of the young fishes. It is from there that they can be able to move to the high seas for proper growth."
Limbe Association of Fisherwomen President Serah Epoule Kome says the local price of mackerel, a food staple in this area, has doubled. "If you go to the market now, you will just see small-small fishes. That is all what you will see in the market. You will not see anything good,” said Kome. Local fishermen beat up a group of foreign fishermen and took their equipment. Lucie Ekema sells fish caught by local fishers. "The Chinese people have their nets," she said. "They will just throw something inside the sea, all the fishes will go inside the nets, even small fishes. They wreck all. But in the morning that my fisher people are going, "Look, you are seeing now?" There is no fish. How can the common man live? "
Several countries' coast guards in the region have struggled to respond to the dramatic increase in the number of foreign fishing vessels. The majority of the unauthorized fishing operations in the area are Chinese. But other nationalities are also involved, including Nigerians, Ghanians and Kenyans. In a report released in 2016, the Overseas Development Institute identified the western coast of Africa as the global "epicenter" of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. Local communities are paying the price.
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