The tasks and responsibilities of the Somaliland Coast Guard are many and diverse. At present it is the principal agency capable – but with certain sea-going and endurance limitations – to establish situational awareness at sea, provide assistance to seafarers and safeguard against any form of maritime crime within its jurisdiction. By law, it will be mandated to provide – inter alia – the following services to the Nation and the wider maritime community:

  • Ensuring the safety and the protection of the islands, offshore installations and other structures in the maritime zones.
  • Contributing to the preservation and protection of the marine environment.
  • In cooperation with other Somaliland Law Enforcement Agencies assist in border control and discourage and prevent illegal activities in the littoral, such as smuggling of weapons, narcotics and human trafficking.
  • In cooperation with other Agencies, establish and maintain a Search and Rescue capability at high readiness.
  • In cooperation with other Agencies and Authorities, and within its mandate, assist in the verification and implementation of maritime regulations at sea and in the ports.

There are many more tasks and associated responsibilities for a Coast Guard organisation. For the short to medium term, and taking into account the current limitations in Operational Capacity to operate at sea under all circumstances, the most important tasks have been prioritised in order to achieve a clear focus: ‘Prioritised Coast Guard Functions’ (see below).

Somaliland Coast Guard Law

The Somaliland Coast Guard Legislation is in the process of ratification. Once adopted the law will legally establish the Coast Guard under the Ministry of Interior and afford it with police powers in relation to crimes within the maritime jurisdiction. Once ratified, the text in Somali and English will be accessible here.

Prioritised Coast Guard Functions

A ‘Coast Guard Function’ can be defined as an expression of a State’s competence whilst carrying out maritime surveillance activities such as Border Control, Maritime Safety and Security, Maritime Customs activities, Fisheries control, Maritime Environment Protection and General Law Enforcement.

The training for the Coast Guard will initially focus on the defined ‘Prioritised’ Coast Guard Functions; these are:

- Maritime Presence Operations, like patrolling in the port area and coastal waters

- Conduct and/or provide support to Search and Rescue (SAR) Operations

- Dissuade and counter Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing activities

- Conduct and/or provide support to Marine Environmental Protection missions

Berbera Port

860 Km  Somaliland Coastline

To answer the growing needs of shipping companies and shippers, the port of Berbera has undertaken an ambitious development programme of the port facility and equipment, which will last for many years. The Berbera port is owned and operated by the Republic of Somaliland; it is the largest employer, generating more than 2000 jobs and is the economic engine of the country. The port has a constant interaction between private and public sectors.

The Somaliland Coast Guard plays an important role to contribute to a safe and secure environment of the waters surrounding the port. It is widely recognized that a safe and secure environment is conditional for attracting development assistance and promoting the development of the Somaliland Maritime Cluster. The Coast Guard is a key enabler to achieve these objectives. The Port and Anchorage Patrol Unit is the principle unit responsible for this task. It is supported by the Search and Rescue Unit in case of accidents and emergencies on the water.

The Somaliland Coast Guard is at the nexus of port and littoral (coastal area) development and maritime safety and security.

Joint Action Plan for Somaliland

The Joint Action Plan, which is a ‘bottom-up’ approach, yet fully aligned with Somaliland’s Vision, and the National Development plans across multiple – and maritime related – sectors, as well as the Somaliland Special Arrangement. It outlines ‘Plans’ and potential pathways to rebuild the Coast Guard in the period (initially) up to the end of December 2016. It is written in a ‘comprehensive manner’, with the aim to illustrate that an effective Coast Guard organisation does contribute much more than ‘just ensuring maritime security’. A mature, Future Coast Guard organisation can be a critical enabler for development programmes in the Somaliland littoral region.

This Joint Action Plan is a ‘living document’ as it is regularly adjusted to reflect the realities in Somaliland, and progress achieved. The Plan is supported by so-called ‘Operational Instructions’: documents that detail the implementation of key objectives, for instance teaching and training activities. To support the planning, there are regular evaluations to review Milestones and key objectives linked to the realisation of the prioritised Capability Targets (the ‘Needs’) for the Somaliland Coast Guard. The initial end state is defined by the declaration that the Coast Guard has achieved the status of ‘Limited Initial Operational Capability’. The aim is to achieve this initial end state by the end of 2016. The Joint Action Plan is a tool of choice to indicate future resource and budget requirements for the Coast Guard to the Government of Somaliland.

Document - Joint Action Plan for Somaliland  (Version 5.1)

Training and Educating the Coast Guard

The potential of the Somaliland marine resources that are available for economic purposes is vast. To be able to fully exploit this potential, it will be imperative to build a core of ‘maritime and marine professionals’ that understand the intricacies of the maritime domain and how these can or will interact. Training, education and awareness building are an essential processes to ensure that the marine resources can be exploited in a responsible manner and with a view to provide revenues for years to come. Training and education provides the thorough understanding on the applicability of laws, maritime regulations and instruments that govern the maritime space. And not in the least, training and education, followed by exercises ensures that the Coast Guard can execute its missions and tasks in a professional, safe and exemplary manner. Building and expanding the Coast Guard’s Knowledge Base will be one of the priorities and requires highly motivated personnel!

It is important for personnel of the Coast Guard to be able to speak, write and understand the English language. In the maritime domain – at sea – the universal language spoken is English. More pointedly, much of the legal framework (‘the Laws’) and maritime regulations are written in English. Hence a serious investment in language teaching is necessary to acquire the language skills necessary to fulfill the various appointments within the Coast Guard.

EUCAP Nestor has invested in the establishment of a ‘English Language and Computer Science Teaching Laboratory’ at the Berbera Maritime and Fisheries Academy. This teaching facility is also meant for Coast Guard personnel based in Berbera!

Ministry of Interior,

Republic of Somaliland

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Republic of Somaliland

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