Under the UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Sea) every nation with a coast has a certain portion of the sea called the EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone, extending to a distance of 200 nm or 380 Km from the coast ) over which the state reserves exclusive rights with respect to environment protection, fish stocks, pollution, law enforcement, fire-fighting and exploration of mineral resources like oil, gas and metals etc.
Mauritius with its outlying islands has an EEZ of approximately 1.8 million sqkm (land area of Mauritius is only 1865 sqkm) which is much bigger than that of some larger countries. As custodian of the maritime assets, the NCG has the onerous responsibility of safeguarding the enormous marine wealth and also rendering assistance to all seafarers of the nation. NCG though a young arm of the Mauritius Police Force is growing surely and steadily.
The National Coast Guard is a specialized branch of the Mauritius Police Force under the Commissioner of police. It was earlier known as the marine wing of the police force when Mauritius Naval ship Amar was acquired by Mauritius in 1974.
The main role of MNS Amar was then limited to search, rescue and coastal patrol. However in 1986 requirement for setting up a better structured and bigger organization was felt due to substantial growth in maritime activities around Mauritius, for controlling smuggling and enforcing fishing protection.
The blue print for such an organization was approved by the cabinet on 22 Jan 1987 and the National Coast Guard came into being on 24 July 1987 as a specialized unit of the Mauritius Police Force.
The bill on the formation of the NCG was enacted by the Parliament on 22 December 1988 which broadly promulgated the duties of the Force as follows:-
The enforcement of any law relating the security of the State of Mauritius.
The enforcement of any law relating the protection of the maritime zones.
The detection, prevention, suppression of any illegal activities within the maritime zone.
Over the decade the National Coast Guard has grown up to become a well structured organization deploying multiple logistic support, equipment and human resources.
The Crest of the National Coast Guard comprises of
A star and key, symbolizing the historic role of Mauritius as key of the Indian Ocean.
A sextant, symbolic of sea-going navigation.
An anchor, symbolic of the sea farer, his solidarity and reality.
A sea-horse, symbolic of vigour, sprightliness, beauty and agility.
The upper background being green representing Mauritius as an Island, rich, prosperous, verdant and protected by her marine and the lower portion being blue symbolizing the vast expanse of the ocean surrounding.
The Commandant of the National Coast Guard is responsible, under the overall control of the Commissioner of police, for the day to day operations of the National Coast Guard. As highlighted in the organigram of the NCG, there are various units which have been created since the inception of the coast guard. These are namely:-
SEAWARD VESSELS – Offshore patrol
– Inshore patrol
– Heavy duty boat
No 1 PATROL VESSEL SQUADRON
The Squadron presently harbours the following vessels:-
Name of vessel Type of vessel Date commissioned
1.CGS Vigilant Off shore patrol 27 Jun 96
2.CGS Guardian Seaward Defence 22 Apr 93
3.CGS Rescuer Zhuk 17 Jan 90
4.CGS Retriever Zhuk 17 Jan 90
5.CGV Castor Mandovi 17 Jul 90
6.CGV Polaris Mandovi 17 Jul 90
7.CGV Marlin Mandovi 24 Jul 87
8.CGV Barracuda Mandovi 24 Jul 87
9. Heavy duty boat Aluminium hull
The Squadron is under the command of a squadron Commander who is also the Commanding Officer of the biggest of the unit, i.e CGS Vigilant. The main duties of the vessels are to carry out search and rescue operations, patrolling exclusive economic zone, prevent and detect any illegal activities within the maritime zone, Flag visits to friendly countries and transport of logistic support to outer islands such as Agalega, Rodrigues and St Brandon. Any other relevant assignments as may deem fit by the higher authorities are also undertaken by NCG.
MARITIME AIR SQUADRON
The MAS with the present strength of two aircraft Dornier and Defender is entrusted with the responsibility of maritime reconnaissance, Search and Rescue, coastal surveillance, transportation of stores and equipment to outer islands, casualty evacuation and training of pilots and technicians
The Dornier was acquired in 1990 from India. With its greater endurance, it is the only NCG aircraft which can reach Agalega (within 3 hrs ) and has proved to be a big moral booster for the people of Agalega.
The BN-2T Defender aircraft was commissioned on 21st October 1992 after having been acquired from Pilattus Britten Norman of UK. Defender aircraft is utilized mainly for coastal patrols, EEZ patrol and Search and Rescue operations.
MARITIME TRAINING ESTABLISHMENT
The NCG operates an autonomous residential training establishment at Le Chaland since July 1987. Administration and operation of the establishment are under the direct command of the commanding officer. The MTE runs short orientation courses geared towards training of specialists for technical duties on board ships, refresher courses for updating and consolidating knowledge of preceding batches of personnel and training of recruits to become both policemen and seamen.
AFLOAT SUPPORT TEAM
This is a specialized branch of the NCG consisting of mechanics, electricians, carpenters, fitters, turners, welders, plumbers and other tradesmen. They are responsible for the maintenance, repair and upkeep of coast guard electrical and mechanical equipment ashore, on board ships,maintenance of buildings and other assets. The AST is under the direct supervision of the staff Officer Technical and is based at NCG Headquarters.
At present NCG has 19 posts round the main island including three outer islands posts at Rodrigues, Agalega and St Brandon. The posts are operating under the supervision of an area commander for the northern, southern, western and eastern command respectively and the personnel attached to these posts perform coast guard as well as police duties.
BEACH BIKE PATROL
Recently in the month of May 2000, a new concept of the beach bike patrol was introduced by NCG. Units have been tasked to provide patrol on the beach to prevent cases of larceny and aggression against tourists and the public at large. The patrol is being conducted on a daily basis from 0700 hrs to 1900 hrs.
Causes of Drowning
- Non – swimmer venturing too far at sea.
- Lack of supervision of children by the parents.
- Fighting the elements of the sea – waves and rough weather during and after a cyclone.
- Ignorance of currents and tidal conditions on the beach.
- Lack of lifesavers and lifesaving equipment on the spot.
- Indulgence in the three ‘Ds’ – Drinking, Drugs and Dares.
- Ignoring advice of the NCG.
- Swimming without being watched by someone ashore.
- Swimming in high seas despite medical history of cramps.
Hardly anyone still believes that a person doesn’t drown until “going down for the third tile.” But plenty of true and important water safety advice is misunderstood or not taken into account. Many people don’t realize that children are in special danger. Infants and toddlers can drown in as little as an inch or two of water, and the sea is a tremendous hazard.
How can people guard against drowning?
One can greatly reduce the chances of drowning or near drowning by following a few simple safety tips
Whenever young children are swimming, playing or bathing, make sure an adult is constantly watching them. By definition this means that the supervising adult should not read, play cards, talk on the phone, or do any other distracting activity while watching children.
Never swim alone or in unsupervised places. Teach children to always swim with a buddy.
Never drink alcohol during or just before swimming, boating, or water skiing. Never drink alcohol while supervising children. Teach teenagers about the danger of drinking alcohol and swimming, boating, or water skiing.
To prevent choking, never chew gum or eat while swimming, diving, or playing in water.
Learn to swim. Enrol yourself and/ or your children aged 4 and older in swimming classes. Swimming classes are not recommended for children under the age of 4. swimming classes should invariably not be held in the sea.
Learn CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation). This is particularly important for individuals who regularly participate in water recreation.
DO NOT use air-filled swimming aids (such as “water wings”) in place of life jackets or life preservers with children. These can give parents and children a false sense of security and increase the risk of drowning.
The NCG has the onerous responsibility of safeguarding the enormous marine wealth and also rendering assistance to all seafarers of the nation. Mauritius has a vast EEZ full of natural resources and biodiversed species which have to be protected from overexploitation by external and local parties. In addition to performing duties endorsed in the police act 1972, the NCG has been further tasked with the duties of enforcing the following acts:-
NCG Act 1988
Maritime zone act
Sand removal Act
Pleasure craft Act
Any other Act as required under the constitution of Mauritius.