Agreement Completes Coastal Africa Search and Rescue

The final link has been secured via a multilateral agreement on a North and West African sub-regional Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre, the International Maritime Organization announced March 3.

Complete search and rescue capability around Africa's coast was secured March 3 when representatives from Cape Verde, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Mauritania, Morocco, and Senegal signed a multilateral agreement on a North and West African sub-regional Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre, the International Maritime Organization announced. The agreement sets up a new MRCC near Rabat in Morocco.

Existing MRCCs are in Mombasa, Kenya; Cape Town, South Africa; Lagos, Nigeria; and Monrovia, Liberia. Each has associated sub-centers, as will the one in Morocco. The Rabat MRCC was called for more than a decade ago, in October 2000, during IMO's Conference on Search and Rescue and the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System in Florence, Italy. The conference called for this networks of centers cooperating to provide search and rescue coverage for the countries bordering the Atlantic and Indian oceans, regions that had been identified as suffering most from a lack of adequate SAR infrastructure, according to IMO.

IMO Secretary-General Efthimios E. Mitropoulos called the agreement a major step forward for the countries concerned, for Africa, and for the maritime industry worldwide. "Establishing this network of rescue centers is nothing short of a major humanitarian undertaking, and all those who have been involved in turning the dream of the Florence Conference into today's reality deserve great credit for such an important achievement," he said.

Mitropoulos also said the full network could play a significant role in addressing the piracy problem around Somalia through information-sharing activities.

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