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São Tomé and Príncipe - Guarda Costeira / Coast Guard

STP planned the strengthening the control of the exclusive economic zone, through the increase of the activities of note surveillance service and the supervision and policing maritime, with a view to the implementation of the authority the State at sea. To better meet the their mission, the new Coast Guard will have to acquire ships/boats to ensure the presence in its territorial waters, in addition to the required specialized training of its personnel to that, in particular of the crews, which certainly may be provided by São Tomé and Príncipe international partners.

By 1987 Sao Tome and Principe's 45-foot patrol boat in Sao Tome harbor awaited overhaul to be accomplished with US funds. Michael M. Phillips, Staff Reporter of The Wall Street Journal, reported 02 January 2003 that "On the morning of June 21, 2001, the people of the tiny nation of Sao Tome and Príncipe awoke to discover that their Coast Guard was missing. It wasn't until a year later that they learned that their Coast Guard, a single, 28-foot patrol boat made in Arkansas, was at a Nigerian Navy base here on the Calabar River, 325 miles from home.... the boat, built by SeaArk Marine Inc., in Monticello, Ark., has seats for just four crewmen, carries no deck gun, and was unmanned when it disappeared from anchor in Sao Tome's harbor.... As part of a State Department aid program, the U.S. bought it from SeaArk for $121,000, plus shipping, and delivered it in 1992 to help Sao Tome fend off encroaching European fishing boats.... Sao Tome has been invaded by Nigerians selling canned food, plastic sandals, alcohol and other products -- without paying local duties. But now that the Falcon has disappeared, Sao Tome has no way to stop them at sea, and no immigration police to round them up on shore."

The west-African shipping route, where São Tomé is located, is an active one. Despite its importance, the route’s facilities for commercial shipping are very limited. With São Tomé’s permission, vessels that cannot enter a harbour of São Tomé can anchor offshore in one of its three port zones. Near Neves, at the north-western side of São Tomé, oil tankers normally anchor to supply oil to São Tomé. In light of the limited port facilities, activities including refuelling, provision of supplies, and transhipment often take place at sea through Ship-to-Ship (“STS”) cargo transfer. Supply arrangements are made with vessels operating along a specific route. According to Malta, the details of the operation including the location for transhipment are generally agreed upon in advance. São Tomé submits that for bunkering or other STS operations, the Maritime and Port Institute (“IMAP”) must be notified in advance; and IMAP will then coordinate with the Coast Guard, the customs and other relevant authorities.

A dispute arose in 2013 concerning the Duzgit Integrity, a chemical tanker built in 2008 with IMO number 9380415, and owned by DS Tankers Limited (“DS Tankers”), a Maltese company. The dispute also involved a second vessel, Marida Melissa, a fuel oil tanker with IMO number 9438169 registered in the Marshall Islands. Both Duzgit Integrity and Marida Melissa were chartered and operated by Stena Oil, a Swedish company that supplies marine fuels in the Scandinavian and North Sea waters as well as off the coast of west-Africa. On 13 March 2014 Duzgit Integrity proceeded to the new meeting point, located within the archipelagic waters of São Tomé, to load 1,555 metric tons (“MT”) of Marine Gas Oil (“MGO”).

The Coast Guard Operation Center informed the Arch Angel, a patrol boat of the Coast Guard on a routine mission, 44 of a radar detection that two oil tankers had entered “the territorial waters of São Tomé from different directions and seemed to be approaching each other. 5 São Tomé stated that the Operation Centre had not received prior notification or request for authorisation from the vessels prior to their presence in São Tomé’s territorial and archipelagic waters. The Coast Guard patrol boat was then ordered to make contact with both vessels in order to understand “the reasons for their presence in the territorial waters of São Tomé”.

On 16 March 2013, both vessels were fined (each for an amount of EUR 28,875) for failing to notify IMAP of their arrival in São Tomé waters 24 hours in advance in accordance with the provisions of Decreto-Lei 04/2010. A Sao Tome court later imposed a hefty five-million-euro fine ($5.6 million) on the ships' captains, owners and charterers, while customs authorities charged another one million euros, "six times the value of the customs duties that would have been due over the total cargo on board Duzgit Integrity."

On 22 October 2013 Malta brought Sao Tome before a three-person tribunal of the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration in an attempt to resolve the dispute. A PCA panel ruled 12 September 2016 that Sao Tome was within its rights to detain the vessel, take its captain to shore for questioning and impose a fine for failing to notify authorities. But "the other penalties imposed by Sao Tome -- the prolonged detention of the master and vessel, the monetary sanctions and the confiscation of the entire cargo -- could not be regarded as proportional when considering the original offence," it ruled.

STP never had much of a Coast Guard in the past, when local fishermen went missing; a long time would pass before rescue personnel were notified. That statistic has changed with the establishment of the STP Coast Guard and the integration of RMAC. The Regional Maritime Awareness Capability (RMAC) is a US Navy inspired coastal surveillance program, utilizes Automatic Identification System (AIS) and ground based radars and sensors to provide the user situational awareness in their maritime domain. The STP Coast Guard has installed this latest surface surveillance program. This maritime domain awareness is an essential aspect of maritime safety and security in their region. STP is the first African country to have RMAC installed and integrated into the Maritime Safety and Security Information System (MSSIS), a global database used to track ships all across the world.

This process began when STP Coast Guard donated several radar bouncer units to local villages and fishermen throughout the island. These radar bouncers are placed on the mast of small fishing vessels, allowing the small crafts to be detected by the larger ocean vessel's radar scans. This will help prevent further collisions at sea. The STP Coast Guard has four permanently assigned personnel for the RMAC program and all have been trained by Computer Sciences Corporation technicians on installation, maintenance and trouble shooting scenarios.

While STP does not have a great deal of commercial traffic in the area, RMAC will greatly enhance STP's capability to increase support services for what traffic they do have, and in addition, RMAC will increase tracking capabilities of all ships within STP's maritime domain. RMAC will also allow the STP Coast Guard to detect illegal fishing in their territorial waters.

Every year, precious resources are lost when nations cannot exert even minimal control of their Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ), territorial waters, and ports. A huge opportunity cost is being paid each day by africans, in terms of both unrealized national revenue and untapped human potential. RMAC is one way STP can enforce maritime governance and prevent illegal activities from occurring in their maritime domain. STP is the first african country to utilize RMAC, and has set the stage for others nations to follow. RMACs installation is planned for Nigeria.

APS is one in a series of activities designed to build maritime safety and security in Africa in a comprehensive and collaborative manner, focusing first on the Gulf of Guinea. It responds to specific African requests for assistance, is aligned with broad international community and U.S. objectives, and is reflective of the mission of the US Africa Command. It seeks to take partnerships into action in a concerted interagency and multinational effort to promote maritime governance around Africa. APS is inspired by the belief that effective maritime safety and security will contribute to development, economic prosperity, and security ashore.

The safety at sea program, accompanied by improvements in early warning, is helping to save lives: over the past three years, the average number of lives lost has been 1/year, compared to 4.8/year at baseline. However, the safety at sea program needs to be continued and expanded to take into account new fishermen, and to help sustain changes in risk behavior. There is also a need to invest in better forecasting of spring waves and storm surges that are increasingly affecting coastal communities.





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