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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).

Announcement: Upcoming Ideaslab – Securing Britain’s Seas

Safeseas is organising an Ideaslab on ‘Securing Britain’s Seas’ on the 28th February in Bristol.

Creative Commons: Bristol, England – Taken by Lee is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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.

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From coordination to command: making Thailand’s maritime security governance more efficient?

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.

190904-N-NI298-0067 GULF OF THAILAND (Sep. 04, 2019) U.S. Coast Guard Chief Maritime Enforcement Specialist John Daughters works with a Royal Thai Navy sailor during a joint visit, board, search and seizure training drill with the U.S. Navy aboard a training vessel as part of the first ASEAN-U.S. Maritime Exercise (AUMX). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tristin Barth)

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.

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Environmental Crime at Sea: The Forgotten Dimension?

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.

Growing, yet cautious, optimism – maritime security in the Philippines

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 Philippines.

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.

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Safeseas directors present at the Global Maritime Security Conference, Nigeria

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.

Timothy Edmunds was the lead speaker on the ‘Future of Maritime Security: Trends, Emerging Threat Vectors and Capability Requirements’. A summary of his talking points can be found on the Safeseas website, and focused primarily on comprehensive approaches to capacity-building to achieve stability at sea. 

Safeseas directors Timothy Edmunds and Christian Bueger at the Global Maritime Security Conference, Nigeria

Other panels focused on areas such as the Blue Economy, regional cooperation, the role of civil society, and enhancing Maritime Domain Awareness.

Building safe seas in the Gulf of Guinea

Professor Edmunds delivering his lead speech at the Global Maritime Security Conference, Nigeria

On 7-9 October 2019, SafeSeas co-director Tim Edmunds was a lead speaker at the Global Maritime Security Conference in Abuja Nigeria. The high-level conference was organised by the Federal Ministry of Transportation, Nigeria, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Nigerian Navy. It brought together 2300 delegates from 76 countries to consider maritime security challenges in the Gulf of Guinea region. Professor Edmunds was lead speaker for the thematic session on the Future of Maritime Security.

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.

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Workshop on Security Sector Reform in the Philippines

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.

Attendees of the 7th Workshop on Security Sector Reform

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.

Into the sea: capacity-building innovations and the maritime security challenge

Safeseas is pleased to announce an article co-authored by directors Tim Edmunds and Christian Bueger, and former Research Associate Robert McCabe, has been published in Third World Quarterly.

Titled ‘Into the sea: capacity-building innovations and the maritime security challenge’, the article argues that maritime security capacity-building not only requires further study, but should also be used as an archetype to develop insights for capacity-building and security sector reform more broadly.

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.

International Affairs special issue on Maritime Security edited by Safeseas Directors

Safeseas are pleased to announce that co-directors Christian Bueger and Timothy Edmunds, alongside Barry J. Ryan, have edited a special volume of International Affairs centred around maritime security.

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 non-traditional areas.             

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