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 Director Tim Edmunds and research associate Scott Edwards have produced a Policy Report based on the ideas discussed at the recent SafeSea’s event ‘Securing Britain’s Seas‘.
The UK faces three critical challenges in this area: first, the need to respond effectively to a complex security environment, with important transnational dimensions; second the need to address the current patchiness of capacity amongst different geographic spaces and regions; and finally, the need to address problems of fragmentation and compartmentalisation between the multiple departments and agencies tasked with delivering UK maritime security. These challenges are likely to intensify in consequence of the Brexit process, when key collective EU maritime governance arrangements will either cease to apply or be subject to transformative revision.
The University of Bristol and the SafeSeas network held an IdeasLab on maritime security in Bristol on 28 February 2020 to identify responses and priorities for policy and research. Participants from all major UK maritime security agencies attended, as did academics representing disciplines ranging from international law to security studies. This Policy Report summarises the findings of the IdeasLab and outlines key policy implications for UK government and other maritime stakeholders.
How can capacity
building training for maritime security be better coordinated in West and
Central Africa? This was the core question of a recent meeting – ‘Strategic
Dialogue Workshop On West and Central Africa Maritime Security Training
Capacity’ – held from 25 – 28 February 2020 in Accra, Ghana. The
focus of the gathering was the Gulf of Guinea as this region has become a blue crime
hotspot due to the prevalence of criminal activities, such as piracy, illegal
fishing, oil bunkering, smuggling of arms and drugs, and human trafficking. These
crimes called, according to the organizers of the dialogue, for firm
interventions, and building the capacity of actors and partners in this region.
This blogpost highlights some of the issues that were discussed during the
Crime fighting The workshop was
organized by INTERPOL, UNODC, and the U.S. State Department to
serve as a forum to gather and exchange ideas for building and strengthening
the capacity of various actors active in the maritime domain in the region. Furthermore,
the goal of the workshop was to discover knowledge gaps at partner
organizations, to get an overview of the kinds of training programs run by
other organizations and to gain more insights into the training needs and
priorities of participating organizations/nations. In addition to the delegates
from regional states, the meeting was attended by representatives from, among
others, the European Union, the U.S. State Department, US Naval
Forces Africa, US Africa Command, UNODC, INTERPOL, International Maritime
Organization, the EU’s Gulf of Guinea Inter-Regional Network (GoGIN) Project,
Regional Centre for Maritime Security of Central Africa, Interregional
Coordination Centre (ICC), and the Danish Embassy in Ghana. In their opening
remarks the representatives emphasized crime fighting at sea and the development
of a legal framework for the entire Gulf of Guinea to enhance prosecutions across
the region as a priority; with the Yaoundé Architecture serving as the point of
departure for dialogues and collaborations.
According to the INTERPOL, the rise of
crimes at sea in the Gulf of Guinea has not only generated interest in the
region from international organizations and their partners, but also from criminals
and crime syndicates that aim to benefit from the lack of region-wide
jurisdiction to combat these crimes. The participants cited cases in which
criminals and pirates had been apprehended only for them to go free, due to a
lack of solid legal framework for prosecutions or due to tempering with the
crime scene. These situations therefore amplified the need for capacity
building in investigative areas. In light of this, the INTERPOL and
Interregional Coordination Centre (ICC), floated the notion of ‘Capacity
Building in the Investigative Area/Crimes’ and ‘Train the Trainer-concept’,
which were met with enthusiasm as the mood was that these concepts had the
potential to enhance the spread of knowledge and ideas in institutions, thus
strengthening the capacity of the local, national and regional partners. While
there was a lot of discussions on crime fighting at sea and prosecution, there
was no mention of crime prevention. However, the representative of the Danish
Embassy pointed out that his country believes in ‘crime prevention on land
rather than in crime fighting at sea. We need to know why these crimes happen
and what we can do about it.’
During the workshop the lack of
coordination of training, lack of overview of training content and participants
of courses, and lack of overview of the providers of training, were issues that
were raised. The speakers observed that their organizations provided and
participated in a wide variety of trainings, but lacked an overview of who had
organized or participated in which workshops, trainings and seminars. There was
also a lack of overview of the content of the various courses. The observations
amplified calls for ‘harmonization’, that is ‘bringing skills and knowledge
together,’ which will then result in ‘harmonization of standard operations
procedures’, ‘harmonization of course content’, and ‘harmonization’ of training
contents, training programs and list of participants.
One major proposal at the event for how
to achieve harmonization was the development of a coordination database which
details courses on offer, course content, organizer and registered
participants. To gain insights into which training programs are on offer,
participants suggested ‘Tracking the Training’ – which gives insights into the
offered programs and ideally, who participated in them. Tracking is key as it
helps to eradicate duplication of training efforts and eliminate the number of
people attending the same course more than once. Finally, ‘Tracking the
Training’, according to the participants, could record the host of training
capabilities of regional centres and national assets.
Organizers and participants agreed that
such harmonization processes would lead to better results of training programs.
It would also achieve a better overview of attendants leading to the
eradication of duplication as there have been instances where one person had
attended the same training more than once with different providers. Participants
also emphasized the need for harmonizing standard operations procedures through
‘Simulation Trials/Operations’ that provide insights on what works and what
does not, so that these can be improved or included in the existing capacity building
training material. Moreover, such simulations are practical and have the
potential of tapping into and drawing from local resources. By drawing from
local resources, the UNODC noted, that the financial burden on donors will be
In sum, the workshop made some important
proposals on how coordination of training activities might be improved. The
discussed harmonization measures could indeed be important steps in this
regard. Yet, one needs to be cautious about the limits of any coordination attempts
insofar as coordination problems are often not primarily technical problems.
They might be the outcome of different interpretations, priorities and divergent
political interests between providers and receivers of training or between
agencies. The AMARIS project will closely follow future coordination activities
in Ghana and the region as part of its Work Package 3. As evidence from other
regions indicates, increasing transparency on capacity building activities will
also be in West and Central Africa a very important step in improving delivery
and its efficiency.
It is with great pleasure that SafeSeas welcome our new
postdoctoral researcher, Humphrey Asamoah Agyekum. Humphrey will be joining the
project ‘AMARIS: Analysing Maritime Insecurity in Ghana’ funded by the Danish
International Development Agency (DANIDA). The project led by Safeseas, is based
at the University of Copenhagen. The project which has three work packages, is a
research as well as a capacity building enterprise. With well-established links
in Ghanaian security institutions and his deep understanding of security issues
in the West African region, Humphrey will be the main focal point for our
Ghanaian partners. In this role, he will be coordinating the activities of and
liaising with our Ghanaian partners.
Apart from that, Humphrey as a researcher aims to deepen our
understanding of maritime security challenges and maritime security governance along
the Gulf of Guinea. Humphrey is passionate about security and security (sector)
governance in the West African region; with particular interest in Ghana and
Guinea-Bissau. In 2016, he received his PhD in anthropology at the University
of Copenhagen with a study on the transformation of the Ghana Armed Forces; evolving
from coup makers to an institution that abides by the country’s democratic rules.
Humphrey was previously a postdoc at the University of Amsterdam. He has authored,
apart from several scientific journal articles, the book ‘From Bullies to
Officers and Gentlemen: How Notions of Professionalism and Civility Transformed
the Ghana Armed Forces’.
Humphrey has extensive fieldwork experience in
Guinea-Bissau, Ghana and the United Kingdom. He recently attended the Strategic
Dialogue Workshop on West and Central Africa Maritime Security Training
Capacity, organized by UNODC, INTERPOL and U.S. Department of State Bureau of
International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs in Accra, Ghana.
On 28 February 2020, SafeSeas hosted an IdeasLab in
Bristol on UK maritime security after Brexit, with the kind support of PolicyBristol, Migration
Mobilities Bristol, and the Bristol Global
Insecurities Centre. Titled ‘Securing Britain’s Seas’, the goal of the day
was to ask how maritime insecurities and blue crimes impact on UK interests, explore how current
governance arrangements work in response to these, and consider how these may
be challenged and transformed both by a rapidly changing security environment
and the challenges of Brexit.
The IdeasLab provided an opportunity for policymakers,
practitioners, and academics from a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds, including
security studies, law, social policy and politics, to engage with one another. Participants
from all major UK maritime security agencies, including high level
participation, exchanged views and knowledge with leading academics in order to
advance understanding of the UK’s maritime security environment.
Panels focused on three core themes of importance for
British maritime security. The first covered ‘Threats, risks and
opportunities’, chaired by SafeSeas Co-Director Professor Timothy Edmunds,
and featured Dan O’Mahoney (Director, Joint Maritime Security Centre), James
Driver (Head of Maritime Security and Resilience Division, Department for
Transport) and Dr. Sofia Galani (University of Bristol). Discussions revolved
around the complexity of maritime security governance in the UK context.
This complexity is visible in relation to the diversity of challenges at hand –
including the protection of maritime trade routes, the prospect of a terrorist
attack at sea, threats to marine critical infrastructure, human trafficking and
movement of people, the smuggling of illicit goods, the maintenance of public
order at sea, and marine environmental management including fisheries
protection – and also to the web of different authorities, departments,
agencies and private actors engaged in the UK maritime space.
These challenges are often ‘invisible’ in the sense that the
general public and politicians are often less invested in the maritime arena
than other areas of public policy. Gaps also exist in the legal framework
governing the maritime domain – for example around port management – and more work
needs to be done to encourage inter-operability and coordination between
agencies. However, the panel also highlighted a moment of opportunity in
this area too, with a renewed focus on maritime security issues following the
2019 oil tanker crisis in the Straits of Hormuz, the implications of the Brexit
process and the prospect of a new UK Maritime Security Strategy in the near
The second panel, chaired by Professor Bridget Anderson
(University of Bristol), focused on ‘Boundaries, borders and maritime
regions’ and featured Professor Sir Malcolm Evans (University of Bristol), Joe
Legg (Maritime desk, Foreign and Commonwealth Office), and Ann Singleton
(University of Bristol). The discussion raised interesting questions on what
should be considered British seas, and how these boundaries have been, or are
being, constructed. Panellists agreed on the fundamentally transnational nature
of the UK maritime region, incorporating UK home waters, but also critically
important maritime spaces such as the North Sea and Mediterranean as well as
overseas territories and the international maritime trade routes.
Above all the panel emphasised the need to manage the UK’s
maritime boundaries and borders humanely and with proper regard to safety at
sea, particularly in relation to the movement of vulnerable people and
migrants. There was also intense discussion over the extent to which security
responses are appropriate for such issues and the inter-linkages between
maritime security and other areas such as migration policy.
Finally the third panel, chaired by Professor Christian Bueger (University of Copenhagen & SafeSeas co-director), addressed ‘Governance and coordination’ and featured Caroline Cowan (Fisheries Lead, Scottish Government), and Professor Richard Barnes (University of Hull). The panel and discussion highlighted the need for coordinated and inclusive governance in the maritime domain, and for more work to be done on the inter-connected nature of many maritime security threats and scalable nature of responses across these. The panel also highlighted the potential for localised issues (such as conflicts over fisheries access) to escalate to national or regional level problems (and vice versa).
Discussions again emphasised the broad and diverse nature of
the interest groups engaged in maritime security and the difficulties of
ensuring fair and effective governance across these and their various
identities and interests. Participants highlighted the importance of
Scotland in the UK maritime security picture, with 62 per cent of the UK’s
(home) Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) located off the Scottish coast, the remote
nature of much of this territory, and the devolved nature of many marine
environmental management and policing issues. Moreover, and even within
government, there is sometimes a lack of understanding over jurisdictional
issues between national and devolved authorities engaged in UK maritime
Overall, the IdeasLab discussions were extremely rich and
productive. They highlighted the complexity of the maritime security challenge,
the multiple, diverse and sometimes conflicting nature of security governance
in this area and the potentially transformative impact of the UK’s exit from
the EU on existing practices, arrangements and relationships. Insights from the ideaslab will be expanded
upon and presented in an upcoming policy brief produced by SafeSeas.
In March 2020 SafeSeas will launch its new research project “AMARIS: Analysing Maritime Insecurity in Ghana”. The project will investigate the manifestations of blue crime in Ghana, the countries maritime security governance system and how it is supported through external capacity building assistance. The project is a collaboration between the University of Copenhagen’s Department of Political Science and three research organisations in Ghana, the Centre for Maritime Law and Security Africa, the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre, and the University of Ghana.
The project is lead by Prof. Christian Bueger and is funded by the Danish International Development Agency DANIDA. The AMARIS project will develop major new insights concerning the intersection of different blue crimes, the challenges of national maritime security governance and the dilemmas posed by external capacity building assistance.
SafeSeas is pleased to announce the programme for the forthcoming ‘Securing Britain’s Seas’ event.
The IdeasLab will focus on the challenges of ensuring UK
maritime security, drawing on contributions from academics, policy makers and
other maritime security stakeholders.
Panel one, chaired by Professor Timothy Edmunds (University
of Bristol & SafeSeas, will cover ‘Threats, risks
and opportunities’. Position papers will be delivered by Dan
O’Mahoney (Director, UK Joint Maritime Operations and Coordination Centre),
James Driver (Head of Maritime Security and Resilience Division, Department for
Transport) and Dr. Sofia Galani (University of Bristol)
Panel two, chaired by Professor Bridget Anderson (University
of Bristol), will focus on ‘Boundaries,
borders and maritime regions’ and features position papers from
Professor Sir Malcolm Evans (University of Bristol), Commander Des Hirons
(Deputy Director, National Maritime Information Centre and Commanding Officer,
Maritime Information Exploitation Group), and Ann Singleton (University of
Finally, the third panel, chaired by Professor Christian Bueger (University of Copenhagen & SafeSeas), will cover ‘Governance and coordination‘ and features position papers from Caroline Cowan (Fisheries Lead, Scottish Government), Captain Phil Haslam (Director of Operations, Marine Management Organisation), and Professor Richard Barnes (University of Hull).
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.