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To strengthen maritime security it is crucial that researchers work closely together. The Maritime Security mailing list was launched in 2014 by piracy-studies.org to facilitate cooperation between maritime security researchers and other interested actors. To subscribe to the mailing list please follow the link here.

To facilitate collaboration and dialogue across the different sectors and domains of maritime security in different regional waters and the global oceans, subscribers are invited to join the list and use it to

  • Inform about recent studies, articles and books in the field of maritime security (including promoting their own work).
  • Circulate call for papers and advertise events, workshops and conferences. These should be directed at or of interested for analysts and scholars in the field of maritime security and should be not-for-profit.
  • Raise questions on distinct research topics in the field of maritime security or invite to comment on a piece of work, such as a draft paper.
  • Point to major new policy documents and developments which are of general interest to the group (such as a new maritime security strategy).

Is there a role for the E3 in maritime security in the Indo-Pacific?

Maritime security in the Indo Pacific is a theme that is getting increasingly political traction. While much of the debate is centered around the South China Sea, Freedom of Navigation and signaling towards China, it is also an opportunity to address the non-state dimensions of maritime security, namely maritime related extremism and blue crime. SafeSeas director Christian Bueger was invited to provide a statement at an event on June 22nd that investigated what kind of promises the coordination in the framework of the “E3” – France, Germany and the United Kingdom – holds.

Challenges for Shipping discussed in Al Jazeera Inside Story

What are the current challenges for the shipping industry and what is the impact of Covid stress? Al Jazeera’s show Inside Story discussed this issue and invited SafeSeas director Christian Bueger. Bueger stressed the importance of seeing Covid stress in line of more broader stress on the shipping industry and the need to better contain the negative impact from shipping in terms of CO2 emissions, pollution and oil spills. The recording of the show is available on the SafeSeas YouTube channel.

Event – Securing the Subsea Data Cable Network: Time to rethink?

REGISTER

6th of July, 14.00 (BST)

Submarine data cables are the core critical infrastructure of the digital age. 99% of the world’s digital communications transit through the global cable network: Zoom meetings, emails, hotel reservations, flight bookings, financial transactions – they all depend on it. This data does not travel through satellites or the air, but physical optic fiber cables that lay on the ocean floor. Cloud storage, 5G and the Internet of Things, will imply that the network will become even more crucial.

If the cable network is that important, why does it hardly feature in political and security debates? What are the issues at stake? Does the cable network need more and different protection?

These are the issues that a panel of experts from academia, law enforcement and industry will debate drawing on a recently published article on the issue.

Chair: Henrik Breitenbauch, Center for Military Studies, University of Copenhagen

Presenters:

Christian Bueger, University of Copenhagen

Tobias Liebetrau, Science Po Paris,

Timothy Walker, Institute for Security Studies, Pretoria

Kaitlin Meredith, UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Global Maritime Crime Programme,

Stephen Dawe, European Subsea Cable Association

Daria Shvets, GlovoUniversitat Pompeu Fabra. Barcelona

https://bristol-ac-uk.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_LKHSTq8CQ1mWslTffGtiHA

SafeSeas research discussed at major maritime security forums

In the last week, we had the opportunity to feed key research insights from the TOCAS project into a number of policy processes. The first one was a presentation at the EU-China Expert Meeting on Maritime Security, held on the 26th and 27th of May in Bejing, At the meeting our contribution focused on the importance of a holistic understanding of blue crimes and the need to pay more attention to environmental security at sea and climate change.

Our second intervention was at the 48th SHADE meeting (May 27th), which is the major military coordination mechanism for piracy and maritime security in the Western Indian Ocean. Our presentation focused on the results from the SafeSeas survey of regional maritime security institutions. We flagged how problematic institutional proliferation and fragmentation is in the region, and called for the need to revisit the position of SHADE in the regional maritime security architecture in the mid term.

At the away day of the EU’s Military Committee in Brussels (June 2nd) we offered a review of the recent strategic choices of the EU, and flagged in particular the command structures of EU naval operations, the EU-NATO relations, as well as the consequences of Brexit. It is also time for the EU to rethink strategic issues, such as environmental security or the protection of subsea communication infrastructures.

SafeSeas comment – “Jersey fishing dispute: why the UK sent in the navy and how to resolve the spat”

By Scott Edwards & Tim Edmunds. Article originally published in The Conversation

On the morning of Thursday 6 May, French fishers threatened to blockade Jersey’s main port of St Helier, following a threat by French maritime minister Annick Girardin to cut off the island’s electricity supply. Both countries sent maritime patrol vessels to the area, including, in the UK’s case, two Royal Navy River-class ships: HMS Severn and HMS Tyne. After a tense stand-off, the UK government has announced the navy ships would return to port, but nonetheless this dispute needs to be resolved in the longer term.

Why is this happening in Jersey? A self-governing dependency of the British Crown, Jersey is surrounded on three sides by France, and at its closest point is only 14 miles from the French shore. Both British and French fishers have historically worked the island’s waters, and tensions between the two are nothing new. Naval vessels from both countries were deployed in disputes over oyster dredging as far back as the early 19th century, and periodic disputes have flared up since then.

Map of Channel Islands
Jersey is one of the Channel Islands, which are geographically close to France but politically closer to the UK. Istimages / shutterstock

Even so, and despite occasional low-level disagreements over fishing in the area, treaties and shared management structures have largely been successful in managing these tensions. Most recently, in 2000, the Granville Bay Joint Management Committee was established, which granted equitable access to licenses for both French and British vessels operating in the region’s waters.

So why are tensions emerging again now? Part of the answer is to do with Brexit. Prior to the UK’s departure from the European Union, British fishing grounds were managed jointly under the EU common fisheries policy. The policy set quotas for the whole of the EU fishing fleet, deciding who could catch what across the breadth of EU waters, including those of the UK.

Fisheries issues were important for both Britain and the EU during the Brexit process, and proved a perennial sticking point in negotiations over the withdrawal agreement. The result was a compromise that satisfied neither side. The EU retained access to British waters, but with the expectation of a partial drawdown of EU boats’ fishing rights over a five-year period, after which quota distribution will be decided in annual talks. New measures were also introduced for verifying which vessels should have access and under what conditions.

It is these new measures which have proven so problematic in the current dispute. As a Crown Dependency, Jersey is not part of the UK and was not incorporated into the common fisheries policy. However, it has been required to implement these new verification measures. This has led to renewed tensions with French fishers, who argue they were not properly informed of the new requirements and have therefore not been able to acquire licenses to access waters which in some cases they may have fished for generations.

Resolution of the dispute is complicated by its political symbolism. Locally, fisheries are a sensitive issue in Jersey due to the relatively small size of its fleet compared to that of its Normandy counterpart. More widely, the rhetorical importance of fisheries in the Brexit campaign, and the longstanding strength of fishing interests in French politics, significantly politicises what, on its own terms, is a rather technical dispute about licensing requirements.

Protester holding sign 'Fishing for Leave'
Fishing was very prominent in the Brexit campaign. Ilyas Tayfun Salci / shutterstock

Resolution needs to begin with de-escalation. The UK’s deployment of Royal Navy vessels to the area is not on the face of it unusual. Unlike many other countries, it does not have a civilian coastguard routinely tasked with law enforcement duties, and historically the navy has always played an important fisheries protection role. Indeed, Admiral Lord Nelson captained HMS Albermarie, a fisheries protection ship, in 1781, and now the modern equivalents routinely make inspections of fishing vessels.

However, even a notionally military intervention in such a high-profile public order dispute with a close ally is politically consequential, and suggests the need to develop stronger civilian enforcement capacities in British waters too. Some relevant agencies, including police forces and the Marine Management Organisation have maritime law enforcement roles, but their capacities are relatively limited, unevenly distributed between regions, and in need of further development.

Joint Anglo-French communication structures should also need to be strengthened for fisheries management disputes and any resulting public disorder incidents. The UK and France have exceptionally strong working relationships in other areas of maritime security, including a joint operations centre to tackle small boat migration, and information sharing structures between their maritime agencies. In the wake of Brexit, these are largely absent in fisheries enforcement, and the establishment of such mechanisms could go a long way to diffusing similar tensions in future.

At heart, what is happening in Jersey is a consequence of the novel regulatory and enforcement challenges presented by the Brexit process, as well as the ongoing challenge of managing historically shared resources. Without EU regulations, these issues present new challenges for both the UK and France in their relations with each other, and it will take time to develop effective replacements for the complex intergovernmental arrangements that previously regulated British waters.

Fisheries are critical to many people’s livelihoods, in both Britain and France, and indeed in Jersey, and their symbolic importance means than such disputes can quickly become politically incendiary. Going forward, UK and French policymakers need to consider how similar situations can best be avoided in future, as all parties adapt to the challenges of post-Brexit governance at sea. De-escalation should be the watchword for the current dispute; cooperation for the disputes yet to come.

AMARIS project holds Focus Group Event in Accra

The coordination between the multitude of actors and agencies involved in maritime security continues to be one of the main challenges for tackling the diverse form of blue crime. This is one of the key questions that the Analyzing Maritime Insecurity in Ghana (AMARIS) project is trying to address.
How do actors within Ghana’s maritime security governance framework relate to each other? This question was at the heart of an event organized by the Centre for Maritime Law and Security Africa (CEMLAWS Africa) – on of the key research partners of AMARIS. The event was held on 29 April 2021 in Accra.
The event brought together important stakeholders in Ghana’s maritime governance framework. These included representatives from ministries, such as Transport, Defence, and Fisheries and Aquaculture Development; and agencies, such as Ghana Maritime Authority, Ghana Navy and Fisheries Commission. The aim of the workshop was not only to gain insights into interagency coordination among actors in Ghana’s ocean governance and maritime security, but also to learn more about the relations between the various stakeholders in this domain, identify convergences and divergences, provide insights into how coordination takes place in practice and how tensions are dealt with. Additionally, the event was aimed at steering the discussion about roles and mandates, and how to improve interagency cooperation within Ghana’s maritime security sector.
The day was colored with lively debates between the participants. The dialogues centered around the roles of agencies and actors within Ghana’s maritime security environment, but also on the question whether staff within the various institutions were aware of the role and place of their organizations within Ghana’s maritime governance infrastructure. In short, the event was aimed at gaining information that will provide a useful baseline for attaining a better understanding of the key challenges for enhancing interagency coordination among Ghana’s maritime institutions.

Read more about the AMARIS project and CEMLAWS.

Recording – What are the root causes of maritime piracy?

SafeSeas hosted the event ‘What are the causes of maritime piracy’ on 29th April 2021.

Maritime piracy continues to be the most pressing blue crime on the international security agenda. Piracy is a problem of particular concern in the Gulf of Guinea today but remains a significant challenge in the Gulf of Aden, the Malacca Strait, and the Sulu and Celebes Seas too. An international consensus has emerged that in order to tackle piracy effectively, its root causes must be addressed. This event assembles the world’s leading scholars on maritime piracy to address these root causes and the limitations of military deterrence at sea and international capacity building. The discussion builds on a recently published book by presenters Ursula Daxecker and Brandon Prins – Pirate Lands (Oxford University Press 2021) – in which the authors develop a new model to explain why and how piracy occurs. Our panelists discuss insights from the book, with a focus on the following questions:

Are poverty and environmental degradation the main causes of piracy?
Can international capacity building or naval mission provide quick fixes to stop piracy?
What is the link between piracy and other blue crimes?
What time horizons will be required to reduce the risk of piracy?

Joining them were Christian Bueger, Anja Shortland, Stig Jarle Hansen and Jessica Larsen. The session was chaired by Tim Edmunds.

Core insights from their debate were: think local, consider push and pull factors of blue crime, and the “pirates of tomorrow”.

SafeSeas gives presentation to UK Maritime Threat Group

The UK has been the country at the forefront of innovation in maritime security. Spearheading Maritime Domain Awareness initiatives, inter-agency coordination and maritime security strategies, the UK provides an important case for how to organize holistic responses to maritime insecurity. 

One of these initiatives is the UK Maritime Threat Group (MTG); a cross governmental coordination committee that meets bi-weekly to discuss maritime security issues and responses. Created in 2020, the group is chaired by the UKs Joint Maritime Security Centre (JMSC) and comprises representatives from the multiple UK departments, agencies and authorities working on maritime security and related issues.

SafeSeas Directors Timothy Edmunds and Christian Bueger were invited to address the group to introduce participants to the work of SafeSeas. They presented core SafeSeas findings regarding the importance of holistic thinking across agencies and recognizing the interlinkages of different maritime security issues and blue crimes. They also flagged a number of coordination challenges as well as potential solutions. 

The second part of the presentation concerned rising issues on the maritime security agenda. Rethinking which issues need to occupy the long-term horizon, Edmunds and Bueger showed how climate change will lead to new patterns of blue crime and a new spectrum of tasks for maritime security law enforcement. They also argued that the protection of subsea infrastructures, in particular the submarine cable network, will become issues of growing importance in fuur. 

The Q&A led to a substantial discussion on the land sea nexus, coordination challenges and Maritime Security Strategy. SafeSeas looks forward to supporting this process in with our objective of feeding relevant academic knowledge into policy processes and debates.

New SafeSeas & Stable Seas report: ‘What We Know About Maritime Illicit Trades’

What We Know About Maritime Illicit Trades is the second in a series of reports as part of the Transnational Organized Crime at Sea: New Evidence for Better Responses project. The project is a collaboration between SafeSeas and the One Earth Future Foundation’s Stable Seas program and is funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) as part of UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) Partnership for Conflict, Crime and Security Research (PaCCS) and the One Earth Future Foundation.

Download the report here

Similar to our previous report on piracy, this paper provides an overview of what we know about maritime illicit trades, how data is collected, what information is available, and which organizations are analyzing these data.

The list of intergovernmental organizations, governments, and nongovernmental organizations described in the paper is by no means exhaustive. The scope of the issue is exceptionally broad.  Many of these efforts attempt to address the accessibility of data and gaps left by the larger data-collection and reporting initiatives. 

The paper finds there are a number of problematic features of data for these issues – including a lack of availability; dis-aggregation and diversity of data; problems of compliance and reporting; and a focus on quantitative data.

SafeSeas researchers at ISA

Christian Bueger and Scott Edwards attended the International Studies Association’s 2021 conference.

Christian Bueger presented on ‘Folk Theories of International Politics’, ‘Manifestos for an International Political Design’ and ‘Informality in World Politics: Global and regional governance / Across subdisciplines?’.

Scott Edwards presented on ‘Fostering Affect Through Food: Sociability and the Emergence of an Affective Based Trust in Southeast Asia’.

SafeSea’s affiliates were also present at the conference:

Ursula Daxecker and Brandon Prins held an ‘Authors Meet Critics’ panel on their new book “Pirate Lands: Governance and Maritime Piracy”. SafeSeas will be holding an event on this book on the 29th April

Ehud Eiran and Aviad Rubin presented on ‘Naval Power and Effects of Third-Party Trade on Conflict’ among others.

Elizabeth Nyman presented on ‘Divine Interventions: The influence of the Vatican on the progressive development of ocean governance’