Kenya wins accolades from France for establishing Coast Guard

French Naval Ship, Fs Surcouf before docking at the Port of Mombasa. The Ship arrived on Friday with 150 sailors. The ship engages in anti piracy operations and fighting off financing of terrorism activities. June 8, 2019. [Omondi Onyango/Standard]

The French Government has commended Kenya for establishing a Coast Guard Unit to police its vast Coastal maritime waters.

President Uhuru Kenyatta late last year unveiled the Kenya Coast Guard Service (KCGS) and launched into service its first offshore patrol boat christened Doria in Mombasa.

KCGS is a maritime security organ that operates at high seas to protect Kenya’s territorial waters against terrorism, piracy, illegal fishing, human trafficking among other maritime crimes.

It is headquartered in Mombasa and its current Director General is Brigadier Vincent Loonena.

Speaking at the Port of Mombasa, French Ambassador to Kenya, Ms Aline Kuster -Meneger said that it was a big step forward for Kenya to have its own Coast Guard to help in protection of its marine resources as well as secure its coastline against contraband trade.

''We are already collaborating on a government to government level following President's Emmanuel Macron's visit to Kenya in March where France and Kenya jointly committed to a roadmap aimed at building partnership for cooperation in the areas related to Blue Economy, ''the envoy said.

She said that her government was keen to further offer technical assistance in various maritime spheres and where Kenyan fisher folks can get advanced knowledge on ocean fisheries as Kenya seeks to tap into the Blue Economy.

Ambassador Aline spoke aboard visiting French Naval Frigate, Surcouf that docked at the Port of Mombasa for a five-day visit.

The vessel Commanding officer is Commander Christine Ribbe, a veteran of the French Navy with over two decades of duty.

The ship has a compliment of 150 sailors and will be deployed in the Indian Ocean for three months.

They are expected during their Port stay to visit places of interest like the Tsavo National Park, Mombasa, Malindi and Diani for recreation.

Ambassador Aline who was accompanied by the French Honorary Consul in Mombasa, Mr Mohamed Ramazani and Defence Attache, Col Jean Yves Dimarche added that considering that as countries sharing the Indian Ocean shores, both Kenya and France have an interest in the balanced and controlled development of the maritime economy in the Indian Ocean.

''We must enhance surveillance of their respective maritime areas, which are constantly facing threats linked to terrorism, piracy and smuggling, illegal deep-sea fishing, pollution and damage to the maritime biodiversity,'' she said.

Kenya and France both signed the MASE Agreement (Maritime Security) during the Blue Economy Conference in November last year in Nairobi. 
''France and Kenya are also committed in the protection of marine environment and the two countries will cooperate to better protect Kenya’s maritime environment through protection of the fragile coastline ecosystem, particularly the Kenyan Mangrove swamp; two French research institutes (CIRAD and IRD) will undertake a project roadmap to classify the areas concerned in Kilifi and Lamu,'' the envoy said.