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The regulatory framework of the Nigerian Blue Economy (Part 4)

The regulatory framework of the Nigerian Blue Economy (Part 4)

The creation of the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in August 2023, is an exciting development for Nigeria and the maritime industry. This step shows Nigeria’s interest in harnessing the vast economic opportunities in our oceans and other aquatic ecosystems.

In Africa, countries like South Africa, Seychelles, and Mauritius are already active players in the blue economy. In Seychelles, tourism accounts for about 16.5% of its GDP. Tourism is Mauritius’ biggest ocean export. While the creation of the Ministry is laudable, the key consideration is whether Nigeria has the regulatory framework for the actualisation of the blue economy.

The objective of this article is to provide an overview of the regulatory framework of the Nigerian blue economy.

In the previous parts, we explained the concept of the blue economy and identified some of the steps that Nigeria has taken so far to harness its blue economy resources. Some of the domestic legislations and international conventions that regulate the Nigerian blue economy were also identified. We noted that some of the legislations that regulate maritime activities in Nigeria are: The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency Act 2007 (“NIMASA Act”), Merchant Shipping Act 2007 (“MSA”), the Coastal and Inland Shipping (Cabotage) Act, the Admiralty Jurisdiction Act (“AJA”), National Inland Waterways Authority Act, Territorial Waters Act 1967, Territorial Waters (Amendment) Act 1998, Exclusive Economic Zone Act 1978, Continental Shelf Act 2012, MARPOL and The United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea 1982 (“UNCLOS”).

It has been noted that the effective implementation of the UNCLOS is necessary for the successful actualisation of the blue economy concept. The UNCLOS sets out the legal framework within which all activities in the oceans and seas must be carried out, including the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans and their resources. As stated by the World Bank Group, the effective implementation of UNCLOS, its Implementing Agreements, and other relevant instruments are essential to build robust legal and institutional frameworks for investment and other activities in the blue economy. (Please visit https://www.aelex.com/regulatory-framework-of-the-nigerian-blue-economy/ to read the full article).

In this final part of the article, we will conclude with the examination of the domestic legislations, identify the challenges to the actualisation of Nigeria’s Blue Economy potentials, make our conclusion with respect to the entirety of the article and give our recommendations on how Nigeria can optimally harness these potentials.

Domestic Legislative Provisions

Apart from the treaty provisions and other domestic legislations that regulate the delimitation of the Nigerian maritime zones, there are domestic legislative provisions that deal with other specific aspects of the Nigerian maritime industry. For instance, it is indisputable that a sustainable blue economy is dependent on healthy water bodies. While there is the need to exploit maritime resources for economic development, there is also the need to implement laws, polices and measures to protect the maritime environment. Currently, Nigeria has laws for the prevention of the pollution of Nigeria’s waters. For instance, Section 44 of the NIMASA Act 2007 empowers the Nigerian Maritime and Safety Agency (“the NIMASA”) to make regulations concerning the dumping of ship and shore generated waste in Nigerian waters and the removal of wrecks from the which constitute navigation risks, and which are threats to the marine environment. Section 45 of the NIMASA Act prohibits all ships from carrying or jettisoning harmful substances or packages. Nigeria is a signatory to MARPOL.

Regarding cabotage, the Coastal and Inland Shipping (Cabotage) Act (“Cabotage Act”) regulates the carriage of goods, passengers by ship and the engagement in any marine transportation activity of a commercial nature in Nigerian waters. It also regulates the carriage of passengers, goods or any substances on or under Nigerian waters whether or not they are of commercial value. The Cabotage Act also restricts the use of foreign vessels in domestic coastal trade in order to promote the development of indigenous tonnage.

With respect to merchant shipping and other related matters, the MSA deals with the registration of ships in Nigeria, mortgage of ship or share in ship.

The AJA prescribes the types of maritime claims and the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court to entertain the claims.

Blue Economy Challenges

The actualisation of Blue Economy is not without its challenges. Humans had for a long time viewed and treated ocean resources as limitless. However, this view has proven to be incorrect as ocean resources have limits. There is excessive use and, in some cases, irreversible change of valuable marine resources and coastal areas. The major human impacts include:

I. Unsustainable extraction from marine resources, such as unsustainable fishing.
II. Physical alterations and destruction of marine and coastal habitats and landscapes including ocean erosion.
III. Marine pollution.
IV. Impacts of climate change, for example sea-level rise.
V. Unfair trade.

CONCLUSION

While it is commendable that Nigeria has taken some practical steps towards the actualisation and enhancement of the blue economy, such as the inauguration of the ECSBEN and the creation of the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy, the country needs to develop and implement a modern and comprehensive regulatory framework for the blue economy to enable it maximise the potentials of its blue economy.

If the government can develop and implement a proper regulatory framework that reflects modern realities for the blue economy in Nigeria, the country will immensely gain in the areas of port and shipping, fisheries, aquaculture, sustainable blue energy, ocean mining, coastal tourism, oil and gas, blue carbon and other ecosystem services, and research and education.

RECOMMENDATIONS

A. The Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy in collaboration with the ECSBEN and other industry stakeholders, should develop a draft Blue Economy Bill which will recognise and reflect; (a) the emerging maritime resource interests, and (b) modern ways of exploiting and protecting the aquatic ecosystem.

B. The federal government should ensure that all the obsolete legislations with respect to the Nigerian maritime industry are either amended to reflect modern realities or repealed and re-enacted to enable Nigeria to maximise its blue economy potentials.

C. The government should ensure that Nigeria exploits and explores the vast natural resources that are present within the extended continental shelf to boost the country’s revenue generation.

D. The government should ensure that all the benefits derivable from the respective maritime treaties that Nigeria is a party to are identified and harnessed as this will boost Nigeria’s blue economy and improve the country’s revenue generation.

Please visit https://www.aelex.com/regulatory-framework-of-the-nigerian-blue-economy/ to read the full article.

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