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Maritime Piracy and Illegal Fishing in Africa: A South African Case Study

(Safeguarding international shipping lanes during sector patrols. Photo Credit: ADF Maritime Auxiliary)

With the escalation of maritime crimes within the Gulf of Guinea on the west coast of Africa, we are seeing a surge in foreign military response as countermeasure to perceived threats to commercial shipping transiting the region. This surge in military response are primarily Naval resources deployed by the EU (NATO) as a means of safeguarding [mainly] European flagged vessels operating within the region. However, as beneficial as this response might be perceived at first, this reaction is in fact a double-edged sword for the reasons to be explained in more details within this article. The main challenge with all ‘anti-piracy’ operations is the applicable rule of law which determines who is mandated with the jurisdiction of enforcement and deterrence. As simple as a military solution may appear, it is unfortunately an extremely complicated mission looking at operational interpretation of applicable legal authority.

To understand this complex situation better, this article will discuss the details surrounding the following main points of conclusion, namely:

1. In Africa, Maritime Piracy is an effect of coastal fishing economy decline caused by foreign exploitation of fishing resources through targeted and coordinated illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing.

2. A military response alone is not the ideal countermeasure to combatting Maritime Piracy, Maritime Crimes, and Fishing Crimes, but due to the military’s inherent planning, C4SIR and CCIR expertise, a joint-agency response under military coordinated leadership provides for the most suitable legally compliant response in the absence of a para-military Coast Guard.

3. Maritime crimes, fishing crimes, and land based organized crime are commonly interlinked within the Africa insecurity scenario.

4. An effective long-term strategy requires a permanent inter-agency approach with a collective knowledge base to pursue maritime crimes (which includes maritime piracy), fishing crimes and associated organized crime exploring all legal avenues following an advanced Special Operations doctrine with sufficient overlapping capabilities (See Special Operations Forces and the 21st Century: How can it help Africa?).

5. A cooperative regional international approach is fundamental to ensuring the success of any countermeasure strategies and enforcement operations.

6. The consistent sustainability of efforts is crucial in achieving an effective and efficient border- and maritime protection strategy. That said, both border (land)- and maritime (sea) protection strategies are interlinked, and critical success factors determined for both concepts of operation cannot effectively be achieved if managed independently.

Within this discussion the term ‘Maritime Crimes’ is defined as:

Criminal activity perpetrated at sea often directed at vessels or maritime structures, but also including the transportation of illicit substances or trafficking in persons by organized transnational criminal networks, and all activities violating coastal state sovereignty and exclusive economic privilege, to include ocean resources exploitation.

For simplification of understanding, the following abbreviations are used:

CCIR: Commander’s Critical Information Requirements

CPA: Criminal Procedures Act (Republic of South Africa)

C4ISR: Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance

DAFF: Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (South Africa)

DOJ: Department of Justice (South Africa)

EEZ: Exclusive Economic Zone

GOA: Gulf of Aden

GOG: Gulf of Guinea

IMO: International Maritime Organization

INTERPOL: The International Criminal Police Organization

ISR: Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance

ISTAR: Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition, Reconnaissance

IUU: Illegal, Unreported, Unregulated

MATT: Multi-Agency Task Team

MCS: Monitoring, Control, Surveillance

MLRA: Marine Living Resources Act (Republic of South Africa)

NPA: National Prosecuting Authority (South Africa)

SADC: Southern African Development Community

SAAF: South African Air Force

SANDF: South African National Defence Force

SAPS: South African Police Services

SARS: South African Revenue Services

Looking at the evolution of The Great Power Competition and how it specifically affects Africa (click here to read article), we already notice two major economies with strategic plans to expand their respective ocean economies through commercial fishing activities in African ocean territories.

Maritime Piracy vs Maritime Crimes:

To understand the Maritime Piracy phenomenon better, we need to understand the legalities relevant to any possible solution before any actions can be taken. Basically, Maritime Piracy involves the plundering, hijacking or detention of a ship within international waters, and falls within the scope of international law. Maritime Crime, on the other hand, includes the same acts implying Maritime Piracy, but it also includes various other acts considered illegal within territorial waters and therefore falls within the jurisdiction of domestic laws controlled by the coastal state. However, this is where the first misconceptions exist in terms of legality, and specifically the jurisdiction of law enforcement. To understand this better, we need to understand the zones in which the sea (or waters) are divided as per the rules set out by the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Law of the Sea. This convention basically zones sea territories as follows:

  • Territorial: An area of the sea that extends 12 nm from the coastal baseline (low-tide mark) of a coastal state which confers full sovereignty to the coastal state on and below surface. It is also referred to as territorial waters (or territorial sea), and therefore this area falls within the jurisdiction of the relevant coastal state as prescribed by appropriate and applicable domestic laws.

  • Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ): An area of the sea that stretches out 200 nm from the coastal baseline. This area is only ‘sovereign right’ territory which refers to the coastal state’s rights beneath the surface of the sea. The surface waters are however considered international waters, and therefore international law applies in terms of all activities occurring on the surface.

  • International: The area of ocean that extends from the 12 nm limits of the territorial waters (surface water), and both surface and sub-surface territories beyond 200 nm (EEZ boundary) from the coastal baseline of a coastal state. This area falls within the jurisdiction of international law.

The main point of note is that the precise location of the perceived illegal act(s) while at sea will determine the relevant jurisdiction (and who has the legal powers of enforcement and prosecution), and what the legally accepted response to these activities may be (including use of force). Now, looking at the subject of this discussion, in Africa there is a direct relation between the occurrence of Maritime Piracy / Maritime Crimes within ocean territories exposed to Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing. In addition to this, there also exists links between illegal (IUU) fishing activities and international organised crime syndicates operating within the affected coastal states which includes logistical support to trafficking in narcotics, people, and weapons. Yes, it is complicated. However, the complexity increases from a legal authority perspective when trying to define these crimes in terms of enforcement within the different maritime zones as follows:

  • Territorial Waters: Maritime Piracy is defined as criminal offences (maritime crime), which falls within the law enforcement jurisdiction of the coastal state (not military jurisdiction) for the reason that the crimes committed are prosecuted under domestic criminal law and procedures. Usually the military only acts within the presence of appropriately qualified law enforcement officials, whereas the role of the military is restricted to enabling physical interdiction, apprehension of suspects, and protection of law enforcement personnel during any operation involving suspected maritime crime activities. However, military personnel do have restricted powers of arrest prescribed with very precise limits when employed along international borders, whether it be on land or at sea.

  • Exclusive Economic Zone: It is within this zone where legal authority becomes confusing (and commonly misunderstood by inappropriately skilled enforcement officials), the zone where the majority of Maritime Piracy and Maritime Crimes occur. From a legal authority perspective, The EEZ is categorized as international waters, and therefore international laws apply. A coastal state may not prosecute any supposed suspects of any perceived maritime crimes fitting the definition of Maritime Piracy under domestic legislation for the reason that the acts of Maritime Piracy occurred on the surface and therefore falls within international jurisdiction. Within the EEZ, the coastal state only has ‘sovereign privilege’ of resources below the surface (referring to natural resources, energy, fishing, etc). Looking at Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing activities within the EEZ, the coastal state has the jurisdiction to interdict, apprehend, and prosecute any suspects if it can prove that such activities were conducted within the coastal state EEZ (which highlights the importance of all-weather maritime ISR capabilities), or while catching the perpetrators in the act of the crime. However, looking at the Illegal Fishing scenario as a possible maritime crime within an EEZ, the coastal state is extremely limited in terms of enforcement whereas no reliable evidence exists confirming any suspected criminal activities, irrespective of whether reasonable suspicions exist to believe a crime was committed. Basically, maritime crimes committed within the EEZ/international waters fitting the definition of Maritime Piracy would be categorized as an international crime, and would therefore require INTERPOL representation. However, if the relevant coastal state can provide reliable evidence by means of suitable ISR capabilities that a maritime crime in fact originated within the boundaries of its territorial waters (or sovereign jurisdiction), then the coastal state will have jurisdiction to interdict the suspects of a crime within the EEZ/international waters for prosecution and trial under relevant domestic legislation upon the condition that credible evidence exists supporting prosecution. The same applies to IUU fishing crimes, whereas a coastal state can prosecute any suspect(s) under domestic legislation if it has reliable evidence confirming a vessel and its crew being guilty of engaging in IUU fishing activities within the EEZ (for the reason that fish as a resource are sub-surface, and falls within the sovereign privilege of the coastal state).

The inherent problem facing Africa and its ocean economies is its lack of effective and efficient maritime patrol and surveillance capabilities, which is one of the major reasons why areas such as the Gulf of Guinea has depleted fishing resources, and why Maritime Piracy is such a great threat to all forms of international shipping transiting the area. Looking at the Piracy dilemma, the majority of the so-called ‘pirates’ are members of the fishing communities living along the coastline, who in turn became pirates as a result of depleted fishing resources within their respective coastal waters. Basically, if the affected coastal economies had effective and sufficient maritime patrol and enforcement capabilities, its ocean(s) would not be over-fished, and the coastal communities would still have earned a living from sustainable fishing practices. Therefore, to understand the African maritime piracy situation better, we can say that uncontrolled foreign exploitation of fishing resources is the main cause for maritime piracy in Africa, and a secondary cause for depleted fishing resources can be accounted to uncontrolled maritime pollution especially within the Gulf of Guinea, which severely affects the environmental rehabilitation process negatively. The current maritime crimes / piracy hotspots around Africa, along with continued poor government funded and coordinated maritime patrol resources plus a reduced political will in terms of priority and understanding of the problem (especially understanding lost benefits to the affected countries’ economies), further exacerbates the already volatile situation in Africa. Going even deeper into the root cause for diminished MCS capabilities being of national interest to safeguard national resources to the benefit of its citizens, we enter the ‘Failed State’ domain.

The South African Case Study: Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported Fishing

The coastline of South Africa stretches about 2,798 km and it serves as an important shipping route connecting Asia with the eastern coastline of North- and South America. The Southern Africa coastline is home to large quantities and varieties of commercially viable fish stock, which makes it a great target for highly profitable illegal and unregulated fishing operations. However, the South African situation is much more complex for the reason that South Africa and it’s well developed infrastructure is considered the gateway to Africa, especially to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) which collectively controls the majority natural resources in Africa. However, as a result of these resources, the Southern Africa region is also much more industrialised than the Central- and Northern regions, and with this increased economic activities there also exists a demand for unregulated and illegal exports of restricted goods, as well as the import of wholesale arms and narcotics. Looking at the South African scenario, unregistered fishing vessels have become the chosen means of transporting illegal goods within the Southern Ocean, most of these vessels bringing goods into the country’s territorial waters and then receiving other illegal goods on behalf of other ‘customers’ on the return journey (abalone, rhino horn, ivory). Along the way as a result of fishing resources being valued at highly profitable international prices, unlawful fishing activities are also conducted within the shallower territorial waters by the same vessels due to the increasing absence of effective coastal patrol capabilities within the South African security forces. These vessels usually enter under nightfall, escaping the territorial waters before first light or upon the first indications of security forces activities. The greatest deficiency in the South African maritime patrol strategy is the absence of suitable airborne surveillance (ISR) assets with all-weather day/night capability to effectively patrol all maritime patrol zones. However, taking into account the current decline in domestic security, the fragility of the South African political system, and increased incidence of government corruption and mismanagement (much thereof being foreign instigated), further contributes to the decline in safeguarding of ocean resources along it’s coastline.

(South African Air Force Douglas C-47TP Dakota. This aircraft is the primary Maritime Patrol Aircraft of the SAAF, originally inducted during the early 1990's as an interim replacement for the retired Avro Shackleton long-range MPA from SAAF maritime patrol service. This platform was originally envisioned with a limited service life of around 10 years until replacement with a more suitable all-weather long-range MPA. Unfortunately due to severe budget cuts, this platform has far exceeded its original anticipated service life, presently considered obsolete in terms of desired capabilities, and still utilized with no foreseeable replacement in future).

This section will discuss the complexities facing the Republic of South Africa in its ongoing battle against maritime crimes and exploitation within its territorial waters and EEZ. For simplification, this section will be divided into two parts, namely;

Part 1: Legal Authority

Part 2: Concept of Operations


Just to recap, the most important aspects about effectively countering maritime crimes within territorial waters are:

1. Knowing the precise location of the suspected criminal act;

2. Having access to reliable evidence confirming any activities being illegal;

3. Knowing the applicable legal authority justifying prosecution;

4. Having the capability to deploy effective and efficient resources to interdict and deter infringers;

5. Application of fair and deterring criminal justice administration to achieve successful prosecution.

Evidence of the act confirming that a crime was committed is extremely important to ensure that no rights of especially foreign parties were compromised under any international law(s), and also to ensure that no diplomatic incidents may arise causing for unnecessary escalation of conflict where nation-state assets are implicated in any forms of wrong-doing (as is the case with the majority Chinese state-owned fishing vessels being part of the PRC militia causing for it to be of further concern from a national security perspective in terms of countering foreign government surveillance and espionage).


(Chinese fishing trawlers operating in groups. The majority Chinese fishing vessels are state owned, and forms part of the PRC militia. Australia has had a long-term challenge countering PRC fishing trawlers operating within its EEZ, also suspected of conducting surveillance operations targeting the Royal Australian Navy).

Within Africa, South Africa has the most advanced means and strategy to effectively counter the ever-deteriorating situation within its oceans economy. However, the response is not simple, and at best extremely challenging due to various factors contributing to the present IUU fishing dilemma within the South African EEZ summarized as follows:

1. Poor inter-agency cooperation and communication due to the lack of a proper MATT (Multi-Agency Task Team) composed of operational elements drawn from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (national fisheries management body), South African National Defence Force, South African Police Services, South African Revenue Services, Immigration Services, National Prosecuting Authority, Ports Authority, and the Department of Justice;

2. Loose controls at ports;

3. Inadequate information sharing technology, systems and procedures;

4. Under-resourced enforcement patrols, surveillance and credible evidence gathering capabilities;

5. Industrial-sized commercial fishing vessels not required to have unique IMO vessel identification numbers (in terms of international maritime law) which complicates proper identification and verification of ownership of infringing vessels allowing for plausible deniability to the benefit of vessel flag-states;

6. Complex, poorly defined, poorly understood, confusing and/or outdated domestic fisheries laws when looking at countering IUU fishing by only following the Marine Living Resources Act;

7. Traditionally fisheries offences were not treated as crimes, and related laws were designed to regulate the fishing industry rather than to deal with organised crime currently operating within it (especially at the large scale and frequency currently experienced);

8. Outdated regulations prescribing low penalties for fishing crimes that are not just a poor deterrent, but also creating the perception amongst criminal justice officials that fisheries crimes are a low priority and not worth the effort due to the limited outcomes upon successful conviction, especially taking into consideration current backlogs in more serious criminal investigations and prosecutions, which consequently results in fishing crimes receiving less investigative effort;

9. Intelligence gathering is often hampered by a lack of transparency with respect to vessel ownership resulting from frequent vessel name changes, reflagging and complex corporate structures purposefully designed to hide the identity of the true beneficial ownership;

10. Poor awareness and understanding of fisheries laws amongst law enforcement personnel, surveillance- and interdiction forces, prosecutors and magistrates, to include not understanding the economic magnitude and impact of fisheries crime on the greater South African economy, GDP, exports and lost tax revenue; and

11. The international nature and complicated corporate structures supported by high earnings relating to IUU fishing means that it is very difficult for any one country or regional fisheries management organisation to achieve a successful conviction without competent cooperation between all agencies with the skills, resources and expertise to effectively counter maritime crimes in all its forms.


Current Perceptions:

The legal aspects surrounding illegal fishing is still perceived as more questions than answers, and one of the reasons for this is because many of the government stakeholders still have independent ideas about how things should be done, instead of focussing on existing legislation in effect. The current perceptions surrounding IUU fishing is summarised as follows:

1. It is difficult to interdict illegal fishing vessels which can easily escape to international waters. This assumption holds value due to current limited availability of naval- and fisheries management vessels required to successfully interdict vessels operating unlawfully within the South African EEZ, an area of ocean greater than 1,000,000 km² in size. Also, the situation is further complicated by the absence of suitable airborne monitoring, control, and surveillance (ISR) platforms capable of recording maritime infringements within the South African territorial waters and EEZ which could be used to pursue infringing vessels beyond the limits of the South African EEZ (the requirement being the availability of credible evidence to prove infringement of South African laws justifying interdiction in international waters);

2. If a vessel and its crew is successfully interdicted and apprehended, then it will be difficult for authorities to frame charges that can be successfully prosecuted (as based on recent cases where in one case, no fish were found on the vessel, and in another case, the fish found on the vessel was determined to be caught outside of South African waters after DNA tests were conducted confirming the species of fish not being commonly found within South African waters);

3. Any fine will be happily paid by foreign owners to avoid a court trial. In fact, based on most recent fishing crimes case studies, it would appear that vessel owners would rather pay a fine than be found ‘not guilty’ through trial (the reason being that in terms of the current South African fisheries fines schedule it is cheaper to pay the fine and be on your way as soon as possible with vessel and equipment intact, than to be subjected to a lengthy trial process leading to losses in revenue);

4. The fines currently issued are unlikely to be a deterrent to illegal fishing in future. At current ZAR foreign exchange rates, along with an outdated fines schedule, current fisheries fines are considered a small price to pay by foreign vessel owners, and the financial value of the cost of interdiction far exceeds the fine values. The implication hereof is that the infringing vessel operators know that at some stage security forces operations will be scaled down as a result of current budget deficits.

Prosecuting ‘Fishing Crimes’ vs ‘Illegal Fishing’:

Whereas ‘illegal fishing’ has been addressed until now via prescriptive and enforcement jurisdictions of flag states, ‘fisheries crime’ by definition is a broader concept which involves offences such as corruption, money laundering, document fraud, tax fraud, and customs fraud, some of which are continuous or land based, and therefore grant more states with potential jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute such criminal behaviour. Therefore, ‘fisheries crimes’ can be defined as related criminal offences defined as such in domestic laws (including, but not limited to, such offences defined in the Marine Living Resources Act), as committed within the fisheries sector, with the ‘fisheries sector’ referring to the entire value chain from vessel registration to the sale of the commodity. It follows that we are thus not only concerned with illegal fishing ‘per se’ (that is, the extraction of marine living resources in contravention of law, which is the current concern of the mainstream fisheries management discourse), but a whole range of criminal offences, including document fraud, customs and tax evasions, human trafficking, drug trafficking, money-laundering, arms trafficking and insurance fraud.

South Africa is relatively unique in that the violation of almost all of the provisions of the MLRA (Marine Living Resources Act) amounts to a criminal offence, and consequently attracts a penalty of a fine not exceeding ZAR 2 million (2021: US$ 140,000), or imprisonment not exceeding 2 years [Sec 58(1) of the act]. This includes, for example, undertaking any fishing or related activities in contravention of Sec 13 (concerning permits) and violation of conditions attached to fishing rights and permits [Sec 58(1)(a)(i) and (ii)]. In fact, standard administrative enforcement tools in the form of notices and directives are not provided for in the legislation although a procedure is available for cancellation or suspension of licences. Certain stipulated offences may only attract a fine (excluding imprisonment as a penalty), which includes non-compliance with provisions concerning prohibited gear, interference with and storage of gear, and the use of drift nets. Furthermore, imprisonment as a sentencing option is excluded in the case of contraventions of international conservation and management measures [in accordance with article 73(3) of UNCLOS]. In terms of the Act, Fisheries Control Officers appointed under section 9 of the MLRA, are the primary officials empowered with jurisdiction to enforce the provisions of the law. Fisheries Control Officers are deemed ‘peace officers’ as defined in Section 1 of the Criminal Procedure Act. These officials are granted extensive compliance and enforcement powers under Section 51 of the MLRA, including (with a warrant) the ability to enter and search any vessel, vehicle, aircraft or premises, or seize any property. Without a warrant they retain extensive powers that include arrest of any person on reasonable grounds of suspicion for having committed an offence under the Act [Sec 51(2)(3)]. Certain powers fall beyond their ambit however, and rather falls within the jurisdiction of the South African Police Services (an example being the power to establish roadblocks during land-based operations), and therefore cooperation with the police is thus required in these instances since the maritime logistics chain of organised crime extends onto land. A key element of future success in addressing illegal fishing from a fisheries crime angle will be increased, but consistent cooperation between the SAPS and fisheries authorities and other pertinent authorities (such as the SANDF, Customs and Excise, SARS, etc). Ultimately, Fisheries Control Officers’ powers are constrained by the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa. Although the National Environmental Management Act is not directly concerned with fisheries, it includes a number of relevant provisions. One particularly noteworthy (and arguably under-utilized) provision [Sec 34(1)(3)] empowers Prosecutors (National Prosecuting Authority) to apply for costs from persons convicted of criminal offences cited in schedule 3 arising from loss or damage caused by the offence committed ‘to any organ of state or other person’, including costs of ‘rehabilitating the environment’. MLRA offences cited in schedule 3 of the Act include possession of prohibited gear and contravention of international conservation and management measures. Efforts to prevent the violation of fisheries rules are thus, ultimately, primarily the responsibility of Fisheries Control Officers who form part of the Monitoring, Surveillance and Control component of the Fisheries Directorate within the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF).

Recent fisheries crime initiatives have included concerted effort from within the DAFF to focus on investigative techniques when handling illegal fishing activities with a view to looking beyond regarding an act as an isolated minor offences, but instead addressing illegal fishing activities as facets of potentially broader, organised illegal operations. To this end, increased cooperation by the MSC unit with the SAPS, in particular the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (the ‘Hawks’), has been encouraging. Underpinned by, and in collaboration with ongoing cooperation with INTERPOL’s Fisheries Crime Working Group and PescaDOLUS (an independent international fisheries crime research network), the DAFF is also seeking to facilitate capacity-building within both its own department, and involving personnel in the criminal justice system along the line of an intelligence-driven investigatory compliance and enforcement approach to dealing with fisheries offences. This would include skills ranging from improved evidence-gathering to facilitate successful criminal prosecution, and enhanced inter-agency cooperation and information sharing. This feeds into the Department’s recent internal Integrated Fisheries Security Strategy which is grounded in promoting and strengthening inter-agency cooperation and collaboration in addressing illegal fishing domestically. However, all the respective government stakeholders are limited in fulfilling their future ambitions due to a severe lack of funding and resources to achieve these objectives in time. At the time of writing this article, this concept was already 20 years in the making with no improvements in capabilities at present, further hampered by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic restricting especially government capacity (but not the organisations engaged in illegal activities). Looking at COVID-19, the associated regulations issued by government under the Disaster Management Act (No 57 of 2002) did allow for a window of opportunity to side-line certain restrictive bureaucratic processes to effectively gain- and maintain control over South African ocean territories, but unfortunately the government failed in effectively exploiting this opportunity due to a lack of foresight and political will to the [unintended] benefit of infringing entities who effectively had carte blanche to exploit South African territorial waters offshore while the armed forces were focussed on restricting inshore maritime activities during lockdowns.

Enforcement Mandate:

In South Africa, fisheries management falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), and at the operational level [unarmed/non-tactical] Fisheries Control Officers are responsible for ensuring compliance and enforcement with fisheries rules. The countering of Organised Crime, however, falls squarely within the mandate of the South African Police Services (SAPS) and is regulated by various relevant laws, the key statute being the Prevention of Organised Crime Act (1998). Traditionally, there have been few coordinated enforcement efforts between the two agencies with regards to crime in the fisheries sector for the reason that the SAPS, being an agency already considered overwhelmed on a daily basis, does not have the interest nor the capacity to enforce legislation on behalf of another department who is allocated its own dedicated budget and resources with powers of enforcement. The main dilemma with this situation is that the SAPS is inherently more specialised in the handling of complex high-risk crime by nature of its better equipped and trained tactical- and operational capabilities which includes various forms of Special Operations Forces (SOF) who are better suited to the types of operations involving high-risk vessel boarding operations, whereas the Fisheries Control Officers do not possess such advanced capabilities, especially taking into consideration that more vessels engaged in illegal activities at sea are armed. For this reasons, the DAFF most commonly followed a more low-risk modus operandi when operating alone, such as the failed DAFF efforts to curb the scourge of abalone poaching along the Agulhas coastline by means of a soft-approach ‘keep the resource in the water’ campaign, despite clear evidence confirming the involvement of armed organised crime syndicates (predominantly Chinese sponsored). Law enforcement operations in terms of a new fisheries crime paradigm becoming more violent in nature necessitates a mind-shift on the part of the main agents involved in fisheries compliance (Fisheries Control Officers, SAPS, port state inspections), from the traditional narrow focus on securing quick convictions for violations of common fishing rules to a more advanced awareness of the likelihood that individual offenders may be part of a broader organised criminal network. It will be important for all agencies to be well-versed in their respective legislative powers and duties in terms of all potentially applicable legislation, that is, not only fisheries law, but also key criminal statutes such as the Criminal Procedure Act and the Prevention of Organised Crime Act. Accompanying this, they will need to develop the ability to ascertain when it is appropriate to shift from an inspection-based approach in response to a particular violation, to an investigative mode. Additionally, authorities will need to be sufficiently familiar with the criminal procedure system to facilitate successful criminal prosecution in compliance with domestic- and international laws (including, for example, with regards to evidence-gathering, witness statements, etc). Coordination and cooperation between the respective departments (including the DAFF and the Department of Transport and Public Enterprises as pertaining to port facilities), government agencies (such as the South African Maritime Safety Authority and the South African Revenue Services who is responsible for Customs and Excise), the South African Police Service, the South African National Defence Force, and individuals on the ground will be vital to ensuring effective and timely information exchange to avoid duplication of effort. Looking at the roles of the SANDF, the military will be responsible for providing all required support to enable all-weather ISR, interdiction, protection and facilitation of safe apprehension of perpetrators (which includes escalation of force and self-defence if necessary) in the absence of a dedicated para-military Coast Guard (similar in function and mandate as the US Coast Guard).


Looking at the complexities of countering fishing crimes and associated organized crime leading to the gradual decline of a coastal state’s fishing economy (as is the current case with all coastal states within the Gulf of Guinea and Gulf of Aden), the South African approach could be considered pioneering amongst the coastal nations in Africa who are constantly subjected to uncontrolled exploitation due to the absence of specialized capabilities in intelligence gathering and processing, criminal justice administration, maritime law enforcement, and multi-domain maritime patrol, surveillance and interdiction. However, South Africa does have a more advanced economy and government infrastructure due to its level of industrialisation which the majority African states cannot afford. However, through a collective regional approach, affected states can use the South African scenario as a practical example of how a government might proceed with implementing this paradigm at ground level, starting with neighbouring states joint operations to obtain a ‘next layer’ of enforcement to create a buffer zone for improved concentration of efforts.

However, the South African case study is not free from any challenges that are mainly caused by a certain degree of poor inter-agency cooperation, government procrastination, poor initiative and innovation, and lack of funds to expand on the resources required to effectively control the territorial waters and EEZ through multi-domain surveillance, patrol, and timeous interdiction. What we also need to understand is that the implementation of new strategies and capabilities do not show immediate results, and on average it will take at least 5 – 10 years before a gradual improvement in the situation will be observed. The COVID-19 pandemic also restricted much of the progress made throughout the continent, but following South Africa's progress will likely assist other African states in identifying the potential ‘best’ path suited to its own circumstances and needs towards adopting a fisheries crime approach domestically as developed by an African state having experienced similar challenges as targets of the same aggressors. The bottom line looking at the South African scenario is that countering IUU fishing following only the [outdated] Marine Living Resources Act will not achieve much success, but combining the MLRA with other Acts involving the Prohibition of Organised Crimes, Customs and Excise, Drug- and Arms Trafficking, Money Laundering, Marine Pollution, etc, will expand the legal framework for enforcement jurisdiction, to include tougher penalties on successful convictions that includes imprisonment (currently not a common penalty under the MLRA). The main objective will be to establish and maintain some degree of deterrence for prospective offenders where the risks out way the rewards.

Also, as can be derived from the legal environment, Maritime Operations (and Border Operations to a lesser degree), are subject to a multitude of established laws and regulations (domestic and international), which includes various government agencies, each assigned with its own enforcement jurisdiction and responsibilities. The main problem until now was bringing them all together. Still focussing on the South African scenario in terms of borders management, this used to be in place until 2002 when all border patrol operations and maritime patrol operations were coordinated and managed by the SANDF (through a country-wide network of Regional Joint Task Force HQ units). As the foreign military responsibilities of the SANDF increased as a result of peace support operations commitments throughout the continent, these responsibilities were handed back to the responsible departments (Border Protection: Dept of Home Affairs, SAPS, SARS), and IUU Fishing Patrols (DAFF), for these departments had allocated budgets for performing these functions (not being the case with the SANDF), and until then only ‘piggy backed’ on the SANDF to provide the Monitoring, Control and Surveillance capabilities to facilitate prosecution of offenders. The SANDF then demobilised the majority of its internal operations Command and Control structures (which was responsible for coordinating inter-departmental joint operations through a country-wide network of Joint Operations Centres), due to all domestic responsibilities being transferred to other departments, and consequently there were no further needs for maintaining obsolete structures within the predominantly conventional structures of the SANDF. Also, back then the situation was not as bad as it is presently for various reasons not necessarily referring to the changed political landscape in South Africa, but also as a result of expansion of targeted foreign exploitation in the form of a growing presence of international organised crime syndicates and unconventional expansion of foreign resources/influence interest. Looking at the current evolution of borders management and control, the major lessons learnt from the past 20 years was the value the military coordination efforts contributed to maintaining the greater spectrum of borders- and maritime protection, and how the military in fact is the synergy within any multi-agency operations. In South Africa, the SANDF was reallocated the responsibility of borders- and maritime protection after an absence of 15 years, but as is also the current case with Nigeria in the Gulf of Guinea, it is extremely difficult to regain lost capabilities due to lost expertise and resources. However, the one advantage that South Africa gained was its development framework for regional military cooperation with both Namibia and Mozambique which enabled the South African Navy to deploy its limited blue water capabilities in support of both these neighbouring countries to counter and deter any acts of maritime piracy to reach Southern African territorial waters. However, due to budget cuts and the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, South African Navy operations were scaled down in the Mozambique Channel, which in turn created a security vacuum leading to the escalation of land-based hostilities by the so-called Islamic State in Cabo Delgado province, Mozambique. The impact of the withdrawal of the South African Navy and South African Air Force assets from this region allowed for resupply of the land-based terror group via the sea from as far away as Somalia.


Now that we have a better understanding of the legal requirements (and resulting options), prescribing the legal means of countering maritime crimes, we need to look at how a coastal state's armed forces fits into the greater Border- and Maritime Protection strategy, especially during times of peace. Since a coastal state’s territorial waters also serves as an international border, it is vital that both Border Protection and Maritime Patrol have integrated, multi-domain overlapping capabilities. Basically, the military will be responsible for providing effective MCS (Monitoring, Control, Surveillance) capabilities to the Joint Agency Task Team (JATT), to include fulfilling the roles of Operations Coordination, Planning, Intelligence, and Command and Control.

Based on the current maritime threats modus operandi within the coastal waters off Africa, the military should have the following minimum capabilities to be effective in its roles in support of a dedicated Joint Agency Task Team:

1. Airborne Border Patrol / ISR (Land Borders, Territorial Waters, EEZ)

2. Long-range Maritime Patrol (EEZ, International Waters);

3. Search and Rescue (SAR);

4. Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C);

5. Communications Relay/Data Link;

6. Airborne Target Designation;

7. Signals Intelligence (SIGINT), Electronic Intelligence (ELINT), and Electronic Warfare (EW).


Covering large areas of ocean using small watercraft and ships alone is not feasible due to its inherent slow speeds and high costs of operation. Although satellite surveillance may be beneficial, such capabilities are not an option for the majority African coastal states due to high cost factors and inherent operational limitations. The most suitable means of covering large areas of ocean effectively is by means of suitably equipped all-weather ISR aircraft. In conjunction with strategically positioned inshore- and offshore patrol vessels dedicated to sectors, maritime patrol aircraft will serve as the over-the-horizon sensors platform for surface based response vessels with boarding crews responsible for physical interdiction and area denial operations. However, looking at maritime patrol aircraft, a single platform solution is not always ideal in terms of operational efficiency when looking at the following patrol sectors:

  • Short Range (< 350 km coastline): Applicable to Zone 1, Territorial Waters (Up to 12 nm offshore), with an overlapping patrol capability of up to 100 nmi offshore within the EEZ as an operational limit;

  • Medium Range (350 – 750 km coastline): Patrols within Zone 2, Exclusive Economic Zone (Up to 200 nm offshore), with an overlapping patrol capability of up to 100 nmi beyond the EEZ boundary within International Waters;

  • Long Range (> 750 km coastline): Special patrol missions capability within Zone 3, International Waters (Beyond 200 nm range offshore), subject to platform operational limitations.

Aircraft Requirements:

To understand this better, we need to understand the basic requirements for maritime patrol aircraft (MPA):

1. All platforms must be capable of performing multi-missions within the operational scope of border- and maritime patrol during periods of peace and hostility;

2. Different maritime zones necessitate different patrol requirements, techniques, conditions, missions and equipment;

3. Platforms should provide overlapping operational capabilities within its patrol zones;

4. The most critical success factor in any maritime patrol strategy is to keep operational costs down to the minimum through operational efficiencies while maintaining consistency in effort through sustainable application of available resources to achieve and maintain operational effectiveness.

5. Where maritime patrol aircraft are operated as military assets, aircraft systems should be modular in concept to allow for rapid conversion to support surface/ground combat missions during the event of hostilities or counter-insurgency operations. Preferably all aircraft systems should be suitable for safe extended operation at low altitude.

6. Maritime patrol aircraft are typically fitted with a wide range of sensors such as:

  • Radar to detect surface shipping movements, with a secondary function of detecting submarine operations during ASW (anti-submarine warfare) missions;

  • Magnetic anomaly detector (MAD) to detect the iron in a submarine's hull. The MAD sensor is typically mounted on an extension from the tail, or trailed behind the aircraft on a cable to minimize interference from metal components on the aircraft;

  • Sonobuoys, which are self-contained sonar transmitter/receivers dropped into the water to transmit data back to the aircraft for analysis;

  • ELINT sensors to monitor communications and radar emissions;

  • Infrared cameras (sometimes referred to as FLIR for forward looking Infrared) for detecting exhaust streams and other sources of heat, also useful in monitoring shipping movements, fishing activity, and the increasing occurrence of sub-surface vessels used by wholesale narcotics traffickers; and

  • Searchlights and flares to aid crew visual inspections.

7. Maritime patrol aircraft should be a multi-engine design for safety redundancy during extended range operations over water, operated by at least two pilots with a dedicated crew to operate onboard mission equipment. The reason for this is to reduce crew workload, and to allow pilots to focus on airmanship and safe operation of the aircraft systems while operating over water for extended periods of time. Ideally medium- and long range patrol aircraft should have crew refreshment facilities aboard to support human performance factors during extended range/hours missions.

System Considerations:

The one factor we need to understand in terms of maritime patrol is that choice of platform and mission systems specifications determines maritime patrol capabilities. Looking at choice of multi-mission aircraft systems for dedicated Maritime Patrol, there are presently not many functional and proven choices available. In our opinion, current evolution of the following systems would be most suitable for Maritime Patrol (to include extended secondary Border Patrol) missions in Africa:

Long-Range: Boeing P-8 Poseidon;


Airbus (CASA/EADS) C-295 MPA

Medium Range: Beechcraft King Air 350ER MPA

Short Range: Diamond DA62 MPP

At present the most capable MPA (Maritime Patrol Aircraft) is the Boeing P-8 Poseidon currently in service with the United States, Australia, United Kingdom and India. However, this platform is too costly for any African economy, and many countries (especially Gulf of Guinea) do not require a platform of such complexity and capability. The most suitable solution for African operations should comprise a multi-type MPA capability (in other words, at least two different, but complementing, special missions systems which collectively offer the required maritime patrol capabilities to cover all maritime patrol zones), namely:

Short Range: Diamond DA62 MPP

Long Range: Airbus (CASA/EADS/IPTN) CN-235 MPA


The Diamond DA62 MPP (multi-purpose platform) is a modern special missions aircraft developed by Diamond Aircraft Industries from Austria. Based on the DA62 twin-engine light aircraft currently in use by various civil aviation users, this platform offers good support over lifetime for the reason that it is a simple, proven commercial design adapted for military use which enjoys COTS (commercial-off-the-shelf) support. The main benefit of this is that it is unlikely for the base platform to reach obsolescence any time soon due to its diverse range of uses globally, including dedicated commercial airborne mapping and surface surveillance. In other words, it is within the commercial interest of Diamond Aircraft Industries to continue design research and development for constant improvement over lifetime, with guaranteed maintenance support over such anticipated lifetime. The aircraft has already proven itself a reliable and ideal platform for law enforcement, search-and-rescue (SAR), land and coastal surveillance, disaster management, infrastructure, border patrol and environmental monitoring missions, and it has various aircraft in operational service globally within these roles. This platform is also suitable for future conversion to an ‘optionally piloted’ aircraft system (UAV) to ensure maximum extension of useful operational life. As a last phase of life, this platform could be converted at low cost to be operated remotely as a UAV/RPV from either land-based control stations, and/or integrated via data-link to be controlled by an AEW&C platform for extended sensor coverage operations.

Special Missions Systems:

The nose section of the aircraft houses EO / IR (electro-optical / infrared) turrets with a maximum weight of up to 100kg. The under-fuselage can support the carriage of payloads of up to 50kg for maritime or land radar applications. The aircraft also integrates a newly designed satellite communication (SATCOM) pod carrying L, Ku and Ka-band antennae. The cabin holds an operator station with consoles for one or two operators to control and monitor and analyse the on-board sensors. The DA62MPP is also offered with special mission turnkey solutions which include a fixed-wing remote sensing platform, airborne sensors, data-links, and land-based stations. The operators are also provided with global support, spares, tooling, transport and associated pilot, systems operator and maintenance training.


The DA62 MPP is a twin-engine design powered by two Austro Engine AE330 turbo-charged common-rail injected 2.0l jet fuel engines equipped with the single lever electronic engine control unit (EECU). Each engine is coupled to a MTV-6-R-C-F/CF 194-80 three-bladed constant speed propeller. The engines are multi-fuel compatible (which simplifies logistics), capable of using either Jet A-1, Jet A, TS-1, RT, No. 3 jet fuel and JP-8 fuels. The aircraft burns 28l/h while utilising 35% of power at loiter speed. Maximum fuel load is 326 litres. Its main tank has the capacity to hold 189 litres, while the auxiliary tank can carry 137 litres of fuel. The exhaust system is designed to offer a low-IR signature, situated on top of the power-plant to blend fresh air with engine exhaust, using the cowling as a shield to further suppress noise and IR signatures.


The aircraft has a minimum operational speed of 140 km/h and can fly at a maximum speed of 352 km/h. The maximum airborne endurance of the aircraft is 11.7 hours, with a maximum range of 1,356 km (732 nmi) at 50% power at 14,000ft. The take-off distance required for the aircraft is 883 m, while ground roll / landing distance needed for the landing operation is 441m / 779m respectively. The aircraft can reach a maximum altitude of 6,096 m. Looking at operational application, this platform is most suitable for patrolling Territorial Waters covering sectors with a coastline not exceeding 350 km, and an offshore operational limit of 100 nmi. The DA62 MPP is capable of extended operations to the limits of the EEZ, but due to the lack of onboard crew refreshment facilities, normal operational limits should be around 100 nmi offshore to enable safe access to land-based facilities for crew support when taking crew performance factors into consideration.

System Benefits:

1. Low cost of acquisition: Lower than the cost of acquiring a single engine turboprop trainer aircraft converted with limited ISR capability;

2. Low cost of operation: Even though this platform is a twin-engine, the CPFH (Cost Per Flying Hour) is far below the CPFH of a single engine turboprop trainer based aircraft system. The result of this operational efficiency means more flying hours under limited operational budgets with greater safety margins, allowing for more consistent area coverage to maximize situational awareness and area denial effect;

3. International Technical Support: The special missions system is based on a commercial platform which is supported globally through various agent networks which allows for cost-effective maintenance options and support;

4. Simple Operation: This platform can be operated by less experienced crews due to its simplicity in design and operation compared to larger turbine powered systems. The DA62 MPP provides for excellent means of developing crew experience at extremely low cost before transitioning to more complex systems.

5. Performance: In many aspects, the DA62 MPP delivers superior performance compared to larger and more expensive conventional turboprop aircraft.


The Airbus (CASA/EADS/IPTN) CN-235 MPA is of conventional semi-monocoque aluminium alloy construction, featuring various components made from composite materials such as Kevlar and glass fibre to reduce weight.

Mission systems:

The two manufacturers, CASA EADS (Spain) and Dirgantra (Indonesia) under the control of Airbus, supply the aircraft with different mission systems subject to customer requirements. The Spanish developed CN-235 MP Persuader is fitted with the Northrop Grumman APS-504 (V) 5 radar, whereas the Indonesian developed CN-235 MPA is equipped with the Seaspray 4000 from BAE Systems, the AN/APS-134 from Raytheon, or the Ocean Master 100 from Thales. The aircraft can accommodate 6,000 kg total payload, allowing for great flexibility and interchangeability between modular special missions equipment such as the Lockheed Martin Special Mission Pallet roll-on roll-off electronics suite developed for the US Coast Guard HC-144 Ocean Sentry (USCG missions specific CN-235 Variant). The CN-235 has a rear load ramp with pallet roller system similar to that found on the Lockheed Martin C-130 series, allowing for compatibility between systems not available from current competitor aircraft.


Two General Electric CT7-9C3 turboprop engines each developing 1,305kW are wing-mounted in composite nacelles. The engines can produce 1,394kW with automatic power reserve. The engines drive Hamilton Sundstrand 14RF-21 four-bladed, constant speed, full feathering, reverse pitch propellers with a diameter of 3.35m.


The maritime patrol version has six hardpoints to carry either Harpoon ASM, AM-39 Exocet Missiles, or Mk46 Torpedoes depending on customer requirements.


The CN-235 MPA has a cruise speed of around 248 knots, with a stall speed of around 84 knots allowing for safe operation during missions requiring lower-arc flight operation speeds. With a maximum range of 4,255 km (2,350 nmi), the CN-235 is ideal for patrolling coastlines exceeding 350 km, and offshore operational capabilities far beyond the 200 nm EEZ boundaries within International Waters.


It is still common for the majority air forces to develop maritime patrol capabilities based on a single platform, usually a system capable of performing long-range extended duration missions. The problem with this approach is that it shifts the operational focus too far offshore, whereas the majority of maritime crimes occur within 5 - 100 nmi from the coastal baseline. In addition to this, using a single platform system equipped for long-range missions is extremely costly, and no African air force has the financial means for sustaining consistent operations over extended periods of time using such systems alone. Fact is, all military operators are facing tighter budgets due to the constantly growing pressure on governments to increase social spending, especially post-COVID 19. To offset these foreseeable future challenges, military operators should consider the establishment of hybrid maritime patrol squadrons based on a multiple platform composite design as follows (example Squadron composition):

A-Flight: Diamond DA62 MPP

B-Flight: Airbus (CASA/EADS/IPTN) CN-235 MPA

In this design, A-Flight will be responsible for day-to-day maritime patrol/border patrol operations utilising more cost-efficient systems allowing for more flight hours due to lower costs per flying hour, meaning, more time in the air observing maritime activities within the territorial waters and EEZ which in turn acts as a major deterrence to possible infringers. With the territorial waters covered from a surveillance perspective, it would reduce such requirements on the more costly systems (hourly fuel burn and resulting maintenance being the greatest expenses in terms of costs per flying hour), which would be free to perform more specialised missions further offshore overhead international waters, to include SAR and intelligence driven operations, regional ad hoc assistance operations, disaster response and coordination, or following up on incidents out of range of A-Flight systems. This concept will also enable procurement of lesser numbers of more costly platforms by a ratio of 1:3 (One Long-Range patrol aircraft for every three Short-Range patrol aircraft).

The point we are trying to make is that one of the major flaws in the current single platform system maritime patrol squadron concept is that maritime operations effectiveness depends on the availability of funding. Each squadron is allocated an X amount budget for its financial year, and operational flying hours are calculated by dividing the allocated budget by the CPFH of the respective system (the larger, more costly and complex a system, the higher the CPFH). The resulting hours are then divided by 12 to obtain a monthly flying quota. This system often creates patterns, and through competent analysis adversary organisations can figure out the best times to infringe on sovereign rights. Also, when monthly flying budgets are depleted, flight operations cease, leaving great vulnerabilities and inconsistencies in maritime surveillance capabilities. There have been cases of large organisations employing ‘observers’ on the ground who’s specific purpose is to record all flight operations from airfields known to accommodate maritime patrol assets. This allows sufficient early warning to all belligerent maritime assets engaged in acts of exploitation of sovereign maritime resources and rights to cease illegal operations and escape into international waters before being observed (via recorded means), which could consequently justify interdiction efforts within international waters.

To achieve effective and efficient maritime patrol objectives, the air capability is extremely important for the reason that it directs friendly maritime/naval assets onto a target. Without an air surveillance capability, maritime forces are extremely limited in dominating large areas of ocean territory over the horizon.


Area Defence Operations mainly comprise missions with the intent of safeguarding international borders, and from a CONOPS perspective, an effective and efficient area defence strategy should be divided into the following zones:

Zone A Border Protection

1 km zone measured from the international border baseline;

Zone B Border Defence

1 - 10 km zone from the border baseline;

Zone C Rear Area Defence

Beyond 10 km from the border involving operations in support of law enforcement agencies.

A critical requirement for achieving effective and efficient area defence operations is suitable ISR air assets to direct land forces to possible targets in real time. Such capabilities also ensure that ground forces can dominate large territory over difficult terrain only accessible by means of air assets. However, defence readiness conditions (DEFCON) will determine the aviation assets to be used for border patrol operations, also subject to the security situation within a neighbouring state. Looking at the present state of security on the African continent, at least 27 of the 54 UN recognised states are experiencing some form of conflict, political instability, or human insecurity related to high incidence of extreme violence. Many of these conflicts involve territorial disputes between nations with regular infringement of sovereign territorial rights. The common test for sovereignty, namely: ‘You only control what you can protect’, often applies in Africa.

Planning Considerations:

When planning an Area Defence strategy with the purpose of safeguarding an international border, the best approach is to consider the different Area Defence zones as ‘filter areas’, namely:

1st Filter / Zone A: Border Protection

2nd Filter / Zone B: Border Defence

3rd Filter / Zone C: Rear Area Defence

Now, one of the reasons why so many African countries are struggling to control current cross-border conflicts, hostilities, and organised crime is mainly accountable to the common misconception that exists within the ranks of national security planners implying that under conditions of peace with a neighbouring state or within, there exists no requirement for any active area defence strategy. We are still very much surprised, especially now, how many senior military practitioners still think that an elaborate area defence strategy is only required during periods of conflict, not only applying to African countries, but globally. Although history does not repeat itself, the present still very much rhymes with the past, and military planners and politicians often repeat mistakes from the past. Both Nigeria and South Africa are good examples of how difficult it is to regain lost capabilities in terms of dominating the area defence strategy along its respective international borders (land and sea). Even the United States are struggling to effectively maintain control over its southern border with Mexico for the reason that it never had an active area defence strategy in operation along its southern border for nearly a century, why authorities are struggling to control the influx of undocumented migrants into the US. The main reason applicable to all three these examples is that the specialised knowledge and experience has gone lost, and new generations have to gain expert knowledge and experience required to achieve efficiency and effectiveness the difficult way.

Resources Requirements:

So, what are the basics requirements for an effective and efficient Area Defence Strategy we need to take into consideration? Under conditions of peace, minimum military resources planning considerations are recommended as follows:

Zone A: Border Protection Manning: 2x Infantry / 1 km Border

(Patrol) Mobility: 1x ISV (Infantry Squad Vehicle) / 10x Infantry

Aviation: 1x Day/Night ISR fixed-wing aircraft (also available to support

special missions in bordering zones) / 350 km Border

Zone B: Border Defence Manning: 2x SOF / 3 km Border

(QRF) Mobility: 1x LSV (Light Strike Vehicle) / 6x SOF

Zone C: Rear Area Defence Manning: 36x SOF / (150 km x 150 km) Sector

(Special Operations) Mobility: 1 x LSV (Light Strike Vehicle) / 6x SOF

Aviation: 1x Scout Helicopter / (150 km x 150 km) Sector

3x Medium Lift Helicopters / (150 km x 150 km) Sector

In the event of escalation of conflict within a neighbouring state, the aforementioned minimum ground forces composition is recommended, which should be increased proportionately to the perceived threat by a ratio of 3:1 (3x Friendly Forces for every 1x Hostile Forces) as hostilities escalate. Unarmed ISR aircraft should also be replaced with Light Attack Armed Reconnaissance (LAAR) aircraft equipped with suitable Day/Night ISR capability, and composite aviation units should be supplemented with 2x Combat Support Helicopters / Light Attack Aircraft for every 300 km Border sector to enable on-call CAS to ground forces. Air superiority should always be maintained, irrespective of the defence readiness condition.


The main point to remember when planning an elaborate Area Defence- and Maritime Protection strategy is that proactive deterrence is more efficient and effective in controlling territory than reactive force during the escalation of hostilities. However, the reward for maintaining an efficient and effective defense posture is peace and stability, which in turn is the cause for complacency that puts into effect the gradual decline of a defense posture to the point where peace and stability deteriorates. This, unfortunately, is a common cycle of decline in Africa.

Therefore, the main message to national security planners are:

1. Territory can only be controlled if effectively and efficiently protected.

2. If IUU Fishing is effectively controlled within territorial waters and the EEZ, maritime piracy will not exist.

Looking at budget requirements and justification for increased defence spending relating to maritime- and border patrol capabilities, governments need to intimately understand the economic benefits gained from increased revenue derived from effective control over high-value sovereign resources, especially during an era where multi-national corporations have identified the benefits of covertly supporting unregulated informal activities involving targeted resources exploitation as a means of avoiding costly government regulation and taxation. Africa is at the forefront of targeted expansion of foreign interests in terms of access to scarce resources, and it is long overdue that African governments start investing and improving its own development for greater future sustainability and self-sufficiency.

In conclusion, the situation is not all lost, for there are various small pockets of excellence that exist within the continent. Even though all governments on the continent have their respective struggles in response to some forms of foreign exploitation of resources and territories, there are also a few foreign organizations that provide assistance to various governments to win the fight against exploitation. One of these organizations is the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (, a non-profit organisation that offers exceptional assistance to various coastal states within the Gulf of Guinea in the fight against illegal fishing.


Disclaimer: The ADF/FDA brands [full names withheld for security reasons] are privately managed and funded not-for-profit companies established with the purpose of supporting legitimate and approved governments and their respective defense- and security departments to bridge current national security challenges and limitations. ADF/FDA is not funded by any government, and the organization has no means of influencing any government policy directives. ADF/FDA provides an advisory service to its beneficiaries, and where operational assets are deployed, such services are provided at sole ADF/FDA discretion only, striving to remain impartial and objective, and free from any external influencers and/or influences. Although some discussions are considered controversial, ADF/FDA will not accept any responsibility, nor acknowledge, how ADF/FDA published resources may be perceived by its readers within any manner applicable to the reader’s own opinion, motives, level of subject matter experience, and education. ADF/FDA articles are only opinions intended to be informative for the purpose of thought provocation, and it does not represent any form of official policy whatsoever. The reader is free to conclude his/her own opinion based on his/her own understanding of the contents of any ADF/FDA published articles. ADF/FDA does not guarantee the accuracy of the information contained within this article simply because it is published within the public domain, and therefore vulnerable to remote, unauthorized, and unintended digital manipulation beyond the controls of ADF/FDA. All readers are advised to do their own research prior to developing any conclusions. Some information may be subject to copyright, and where ADF/FDA privileged copyright has been infringed, ADF/FDA does not accept any responsibility for any consequences resulting from the unauthorized use of ADF/FDA privileged information.

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