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).
Safeseas is organising an Ideaslab on ‘Securing Britain’s Seas’ on the 28th February in Bristol.
As a nation of islands, maritime security is of critical importance to the UK. Maritime security comprises a range of important issues, including fisheries management, the migration of people, the fight against narcotics and people trafficking, marine environmental protection, the protection of critical infrastructure and counterterrorism at sea. Yet, while the UK remains a major naval power, its independent capacities for the management of maritime security in home waters are underdeveloped. UK maritime security also faces a series of new challenges in consequence of the Brexit process.
Safeseas Research Associate Scott Edwards recently had the opportunity to access insights from Thailand’s Maritime Enforcement Command Center (ThaiMECC). Previously the Maritime Enforcement Coordination Centre, the change of name is indicative of a new intended direction for the agency. ThaiMECC provides a new noteworthy example of Maritime Domain Awareness, which the Safeseas Best Practice Toolkit demonstrates is the engine room of maritime security governance.
When it was first established in 1997, ThaiMECC was intended to be a focal point for tackling Thailand’s maritime insecurities – particularly trafficking and illegal fishing. Bringing together the Royal Thai Navy, Fisheries Department, Marine Department, Customs Department, Maritime and Coastal Environment Department, and the Marine Police, the agency sought to make inter-agency coordination more effective through seminars, exercises and information-sharing.
The backbone of ThaiMECC (in both its previous and current
incarnation) is the Maritime Information Sharing Centre (MISC). MISC not only
gathers and collates information from the different agencies’ information
platforms, but also has a staff tasked with analysis, evaluation and
dissemination in order to increase Maritime Domain Awareness.
Environmental crime is perhaps the form of crime that receives the least attention in the debates on transnational organised crime. Although the thriving debate on a “green criminology” has gradually aimed at alerting academics and policy makers of the detrimental consequences of crimes ranging from pollution to waste crimes to illegal fishing.
In the maritime security debate, so far, attention has been only paid to illegal fishing as the major type of environmental crime at sea. It is time to start recognising the other types, include the severe impacts of illicit waste trade, which predominantly is carried out via maritime routes, or various kinds of pollution crimes.
Contributing to this awareness raising, Prof. Christian Bueger of SafeSeas recently gave a presentation on environmental crimes at sea at the UNODC Global Maritime Crime Programme’s Legal Expert Meeting held in Mauritius. Contact Prof. Bueger for further details.
Safeseas Research Associate Scott Edwards recently visited
the Philippines and had the opportunity to assess some of the over-arching
themes of Philippine maritime security focused upon by security practitioners.
The Philippines faces a large array of security issues,
ranging from kidnappings that fund terrorist activities; piracy in an area in
which over $40 billion dollars’ worth of cargo flows; trafficking of drugs,
weapons and people; cigarette, alcohol and fuel smuggling; and illegal fishing
which not only destroys marine habitats but also damages the economy of the
At a policy level, however, the government and Navy mainly
continues to focus on traditional areas of geopolitics – primarily concerned
about China’s overlapping claims in the South of China Sea. This can divert
attention from the need to address the wide array of transnational organised
crimes at sea that take place in the waters of the Philippines.
Safeseas directors Timothy Edmunds and Christian Bueger attended the Global Maritime Security Conference in Abuja, Nigeria, on the 7th to 9th of October 2019. The high-level conference brought together 2300 delegates from 76 countries, and was organised by the Federal Ministry of Transportation, Nigeria, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), and the Nigerian Navy.
Christian Bueger spoke on the first day, leading the
discussion for the thematic session ‘Balancing
Geopolitical, Economic and Geostrategic Interests in Maritime Security
Initiatives’. Recognising the complexity of attaining maritime security due
to issues of sovereignty, the discussion focused on the importance of balancing
the geostrategic interests of international actors with those in the Gulf of
Guinea in order to identify areas where interests could dovetail.
His remarks set out the main contours of the maritime
security challenge, arguing that these issues are of critical importance to
coastal states in the Gulf of Guinea, and to the global economy and environment
more widely. However, maritime insecurities are complex and multifaceted. They
entail issues of national security, economic development, environmental
protection and human security. They are also interdependent in the sense
that problems in one area may lead to or exacerbate problems in others. They
are transnational in that they are shared between states. They are
problems of the land as well as of the sea, and present significant
jurisdictional complexity, between states, between the range of institutions
implicated in addressing them, and between public and private sectors.
Safeseas research associate Scott Edwards was invited to attend the 7th Workshop on Security Sector Reform, focusing on Maritime Security Sector Reform and Governance. Organised by the Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance, the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, and the National Defense College of the Philippines, the event brought together maritime security practitioners from various institutions and organisations in the Philippines. These included the National Security Council, the Coast Guard, the National Coast Watch Center, and the Navy, as well as non-state actors and organisations.
Scott delivered a presentation that focused on insights from the Safeseas best practice toolkit, applying it directly to the issues the Philippines faces concerning transnational organised crime at sea. Drawing upon the best practice toolkit, one area he specifically focused on was the potential means of facilitating more effective coordination in enforcement, including through establishing coordination structures and the potential of maritime domain awareness as a trust-building tool. He also facilitated mini workshops within the event that aimed at encouraging security sector actors to think reflexively about security sector reform and the challenges to it.
In other talks, China, sovereignty and international law were dominant themes. Further discussions, however, centered on addressing capability in enforcement against transnational organised crime at sea, as well as the important role of education and the need to bring other stakeholders, such as coastal communities, into the maritime security sector.
Specifically, the article uses the case of the West Indian
Ocean to explore capacity-building as a response primarily to Somali piracy.
Through this exploration, they are able to examine the innovative
characteristics of capacity-building in the maritime sector, which can be used
to expand the capacity-building agenda as it is traditionally understood.
The innovations highlighted are: the way in which new types
of regional constellations have been produced by thinking from the sea, rather
than the land (building regions); the use of informality and networks as a
coordination and governance tool (building networks); and the ways in which new
forms of technology have been appropriated to make security knowledge
production and surveillance an essential element of projects (producing
maritime security knowledge).
While challenges and failures are also highlighted,
recognising the complexity of the practice of building maritime capacity,
capacity-building efforts remain novel in terms of design and approach, and
therefore provide the opportunity to develop insights into how to improve
capacity-building more broadly.
The special issues builds upon on their previous article ‘Beyond
seablindness: a new agenda for maritime security studies’ that argued that
developments in the maritime arena have flown beneath the radar of much
mainstream international relations and security studies scholarship, and that a
new agenda for maritime security studies was required. In the introduction of
the special issue, ‘Maritime
security: the uncharted politics of the global sea’, they reiterate their
call for more scholarly attention to be paid to the maritime environment in
international relations and security studies. They further argue that the
contemporary maritime security agenda should be understood as an interlinked
set of challenges of growing global, regional and national significance, and
comprising issues of national, environmental, economic and human security. The
five contributions in the special issue set out to advance this understanding,
with two having a more traditional perspective, while three analyse
As part of the maritime conference held at MAST Northern Coasts, Prof. Bueger, gave a presentation drawing on SafeSeas research on Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA). He reflected on what is difficult in implementing MDA and why we don’t see the emergence of a Baltic regional MDA structure.