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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).

AMARIS project holds kick-off event

On 25 June 2020, the ‘Addressing Maritime Insecurity in Ghana (AMARIS)’ project held its ‘Kick-Off Event’. AMARIS is a two and a half year initiative funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, administered by the DANIDA Fellowship Centre and based at the Department of Political Science, University of Copenhagen. AMARIS started in March 2020 and the ‘Kick-Off Event’ marked the end of its inception phase and the launch of the fieldwork phase. The main purpose of the kick-off event was to agree on the joint research strategy for all four partner institutions, to discuss innovative data collection methods in light of the current Covid situation, but also how to generate new theoretical insights. 

Paradigmatic case

AMARIS studies maritime insecurity and the responses to it in Ghana. The country is seen as a paradigmatic case that stands for the significant challenges linked to maritime security. Blue crimes, such as piracy, armed robbery at sea, or illegal fishing and waste dumping affect the country’s economy negatively. There are also issues linked to port security, smuggling and stowaways. The AMARIS project through its four work packages aims to conduct a theory-driven and in-depth study of maritime (in)security in Ghana. The project investigates the manifestations of maritime crime in the country (work package 1, led by the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Center (KAIPTC)), the governance responses to maritime (in)security that have developed in the past twenty years (work package 2, led by the Center for Maritime Security and Law in Africa (CEMLAWS)), and the capacity building assistance that is carried out in the country by international partners (work package 3, led by the University of Copenhagen in collaboration with the University of Ghana). Together, the four work packages will make a substantial contribution to better tackle maritime security challenges in Ghana, the Gulf of Guinea and elsewhere.

Best practices

AMARIS is the first project that studies the maritime security challenges of a country in the Global South in such depth. A lot can be learned from this case study. The research will reveal best practices that can be shared with others, but also outlines the tensions and challenges that persist in this arena. In addition to carrying out research, part of AMARIS is also the organization of a pilot training school that has the ambition to shape a future generation of maritime security analysts in the region.

Blue Crime: Conceptualising transnational organised crime at sea

SafeSeas Directors Christian Bueger and Tim Edmunds have released a new working paper ‘Blue Crime: Conceptualising transnational organised crime at sea’. A pre-print of an article accepted at Marine Policy, the paper proposes the concept of blue crime and provides a systematic conceptualisation of the term as well as a typology.

Click here for the working paper

Transnational organised crime at sea has only recently been recognised as a major security issue that requires political attention. Crimes such as maritime piracy, the illicit trafficking of people, narcotics, arms or waste by the sea, and environmental crimes such as illegal fishing or pollution are increasingly important dimensions of ocean governance and the associated maritime security and law enforcement agenda. Such crimes have different expressions across the world’s maritime regions and affect human lives, political stability and economic interests in different ways, ranging from their impact on coastal communities to international shipping and even national security.

There are significant debates and uncertainties, however, around the current usage of the term. These centre around the meaning, scope and reach of the concept including, what illicit activities it comprises, and how these can be meaningfully structured in ways that that both recognise the diverse nature of maritime crime yet also provide a basis for an integrated response to it.

The article addresses these uncertainties and contestations and develops a systematic categorisation of ‘blue crime’. Through this categorisation, the article identifies three core groups of blue crime: crimes against mobility, criminal flows, and environmental crimes.

Each crime entails a different relationship with the maritime space and produces differing pathologies of effect.

As such, the article addresses the debate that continues around the term transnational organised crime at sea and provides a new framework of ‘blue crimes’ for navigating this complex issue for practitioners and analysts alike. It achieves this by tracing the distinct characteristics of different blue crimes and identifying how they intersect through the skills and capacities required to carry them out, the spaces in which they take place, and the facilitating crimes related to them. Through this, the article considers what kinds of synergies can be built to respond to them.

Specifically, it highlights three consequences: First, it is clear that some forms of maritime crime are significantly better documented than others. Second, the paper implies that more work needs to be done to understand the ways in which different actors and organisations involved in the fight against maritime crime share information between each other, and more widely. Finally, it points to the importance of the governance and organisation of joined up responses to blue crimes, including capacity building as the international and regional governance systems are fragmented and lack integration.

Event on Gulf of Guinea situation

What is the current state of maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea? What are the consequences of Covid? These were two central questions of an event organised by CEMLAWS, partner of the SafeSeas network and core contributor to the new AMARIS project. Christian Bueger participated in the event on Monday the 8th as one of the panelists.

GULF OF GUINEA OCEANS GOVERNANCE DIALOGUE: Covid-Piracy, Coastal Communities, Needed Responses

GULF OF GUINEA OCEANS GOVERNANCE DIALOGUE: Covid-Piracy, Coastal Communities, Needed Responses

Gepostet von Centre For Maritime Law And Security Africa – CEMLAWS Africa am Montag, 8. Juni 2020

As current number indicate pirates are increasingly widening their operational terrain in the region, attacking more frequently in the Gulf of Guinea countries, and going further out to sea. The same time capacity building efforts are progressing well. Yet there are worries that Covid leads to less resource committments both within and from outside the region. Participants hence called for more innovative thinking making the best out of the current situation. Bueger in particular stressed the importance of considering how community policing at sea can provide new directions in law enforcement and maritime domain awareness.

Webinar information: ‘Do we have the right data for fighting maritime piracy?’

SafeSeas will hold a webinar event held on the 9th of June, 15.00 BST, in collaboration with Stable Seas, to accompany the release of our new report ‘What we know about piracy’.

Click here for the full report

The speakers are:

Ms. Lydelle Joubert, Stable Seas
Mr. Cyrus Mody, IMB Piracy Reporting Centre, ICC
Ms. Siri Bjune, Global Maritime Crime Programme, UNODC
Mr. Jacob Larsen, BIMCO
Dr. Ursula Daxecker, University of Amsterdam

Register

Piracy attacks continue to be rampant and threaten the shipping industry. In the Gulf of Guinea and other regions attacks continue despite substantial international efforts and self-protective measures. Good policies and effective responses depend on solid data. The right data allows us to identify patterns and criminal networks, target interventions better and provides clues about what deterrence measures work. It is also important to raise awareness and draw political attention to the problem.

Piracy data has been systematically collected since the 1980s, initially by the International Maritime Bureau and International Maritime Organization. Since the 2000s the number of actors collecting data on piracy has increased. Regional organizations and maritime domain awareness programmes collect data for particular regions, or to support military missions.

Over the years different definitions of what should count as piracy and what information should be included (e.g. degree of violence) in such reports have developed. Data collection is increasingly fragmented, and reports come to different conclusions on trends. 

This not only raises the question of whether and how such data could be harmonized, but also whether the data collected meets the needs of all users. Are law enforcement agencies, the shipping industry, security analysts as well as the general public getting the right information and picture?

The recent report by Stable Seas / SafeSeas ‘What we know about piracy’ provides a systematic overview of how data on piracy is collected. In this webinar, the report’s author, Lydelle Joubert, will highlight insights from the research with commentary from leading stakeholders and experts.

The discussion will be chaired by Christian Bueger, Co-Director of SafeSeas and professor at the University of Copenhagen.

Register

Programme

Blue ideaslab on crimes and order at sea

As part of the ongoing discussion on the blue turn and divergent research perspectives on ocean governance, international relations and maritime security, SafeSeas organised another iteration of the blue ideaslab on the 28th of May. The blue ideaslab provides an open format to discuss research and project ideas as well as work in progress linked to social science research on the sea. While previous versions were held physically at the University of Copenhagen, this iteration was online, which also enabled broader international participation.

Three sets of ideas were discussed under the title “Crimes and Order at Sea”. Jan Stockbruegger from Brown University introduced his research on the history of maritime order, Edyta Rozko, Senior Researcher at the Chr. Michelsen Institute in Bergen, Norway presented insights from her ongoing research project on fisheries, and Tim Edmunds and Christian Bueger presented a recent paper on the intersections between different blue crimes which is an outcome of the TOCAS project.

Brexit: how the UK is preparing to secure its seas outside the EU

Scott Edwards and Tim Edmunds recently wrote a short article for The Conversation, drawing upon insights from the SafeSeas Policy Brief ‘Delivering Maritime Security after Brexit: time for a joined-up approach‘.

Four dinghies carrying 53 migrants who tried to cross the English Channel from France were intercepted by British and French authorities in early April. The crossings are a reminder of the importance of maritime security and safety to the UK.

Brexit has led to many uncertainties, including over the governance of the UK’s seas in the future. Withdrawal from EU regulations at the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31 2020 raises questions over how to face the difficult task of managing maritime risks which are currently managed alongside the EU.

Uncertainty has also spurred new government efforts by shining a light on the need to secure UK waters, something we’ve written about in a new report.

The UK faces rapidly evolving risks to its shipping lanes, fishing grounds and marine infrastructure. These risks include illegal fishing, human trafficking, organised crime such as smuggling, terrorism, and the potential for protests at sea.

Terrorist attacks could cause significant loss of life if targeted against ferries and cruise liners. Illegal fishing could affect the livelihoods of fishers and marine biodiversity, while other risks could have an impact on the wider economy in a context where 95% of Britain’s trade flows via the ocean.

These risks tend to interlink with each other in ways that are increasingly well documented in other regions of the world. In Somalia, for example, local fishers losing their stock as a result of illegal fishing have turned to piracy. What unintended consequences of new risks might appear in UK waters is still not fully understood.

Maritime security threats can also take place simultaneously. Without greater understanding of these risks, it’s difficult to know which should be prioritised.

Added complication of Brexit

These issues have been complicated by the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. During the current transition period the UK manages its waters within a wider EU maritime governance framework and under EU regulations, as it did while it was an EU member. While the UK isn’t expected to cease all cooperation with the EU when this comes to an end, it will be required to depend more on national enforcement and regulations.

This shift is most visible in the fisheries sector. As part of the EU, British fisheries were managed under the Common Fisheries Policy meaning both UK and EU fishing boats had access to quotas in UK waters. Such arrangements are likely to come to an end with the UK choosing to regulate its own waters.

UK ports are also a hotspot for change as they seem likely to withdraw from EU port legislation. This could lead to new national regulatory challenges such as a need to balance harmonisation with the EU with the pursual of British priorities like the creation of freeports, aimed to give British trade a competitive edge.

Taking sole responsibility is made difficult by other complicating factors. In the UK, different risks are managed by different government agencies, with problems of jurisdictional overlap.

Depending where it takes place, multiple agencies could be involved in illegal fishing, for example. This could include the Marine Management Organisation, Marine Scotland, and the Royal Navy’s Fishery Protection Squadron. Other agencies may contribute boats or intelligence, such as the National Maritime Information Centre, Border Force and the National Crime Agency.

Yet, a common understanding of the threats and consistent communication between departments is lacking in some areas. This is more of a problem for devolved issues such as fisheries, which add even more authorities, departments and agencies to the picture. The relationships between these different organisations are likely to be further tested by the challenges posed by Brexit.

Opportunity for reform

But Brexit also offers the UK an opportunity to improve its maritime security. The leak of Operation Yellowhammer in 2019 raised the public profile of maritime issues such as delayed freight in ports, the illegal entry of EU fishing boats into UK waters and potential clashes between fishing vessels. This came at a time where there were high profile landings of illegal migrants along the south coast of the UK, while Operation Yellowhammer warned of stretched maritime enforcement capabilities.

The UK has started off well. In 2019, the UK government created the Joint Maritime Security Centre (JMSC) to coordinate all the different agencies involved and foster interaction between them. The JMSC conducted a joint UK maritime security exercise at the end of 2019, highlighting how coordination can improve enforcement. It is also preparing a new UK maritime security strategy.

Interactions between the different government agencies involved in managing the risks to the UK seas need to become more frequent and overcome existing divides to create habits of cooperation and communication. Other groups such as fishing communities need to be included in deliberations. Transparency and information sharing in the process of drafting a new maritime security strategy can help to identify common goals, encourage involvement, and establish a shared basis for action.

A review of resources would also be worthwhile to identify the means the UK has to secure its waters, what gaps exist, and how these means can best be shared.

SAVE THE DATE: ‘Do we have the right data for fighting maritime piracy?’ Webinar

SAVE THE DATE: 9th June, 15.00 BST

SafeSeas is pleased to announce a webinar event held on the 9th of June, 15.00 BST, in collaboration with Stable Seas, to accompany the release of our new report ‘What we know about piracy’.

Click here for the full report

Click here for the Programme

The speakers are:

Ms. Lydelle Joubert, Stable Seas
Mr. Cyrus Mody, IMB Piracy Reporting Centre, ICC
Ms. Siri Bjune, Global Maritime Crime Programme, UNODC
Mr. Jacob Larsen, BIMCO
Dr. Ursula Daxecker, University of Amsterdam

Register

Piracy attacks continue to be rampant and threaten the shipping industry. In the Gulf of Guinea and other regions attacks continue despite substantial international efforts and self-protective measures. Good policies and effective responses depend on solid data. The right data allows us to identify patterns and criminal networks, target interventions better and provides clues about what deterrence measures work. It is also important to raise awareness and draw political attention to the problem.

Piracy data has been systematically collected since the 1980s, initially by the International Maritime Bureau and International Maritime Organization. Since the 2000s the number of actors collecting data on piracy has increased. Regional organizations and maritime domain awareness programmes collect data for particular regions, or to support military missions.

Over the years different definitions of what should count as piracy and what information should be included (e.g. degree of violence) in such reports have developed. Data collection is increasingly fragmented, and reports come to different conclusions on trends. 

This not only raises the question of whether and how such data could be harmonized, but also whether the data collected meets the needs of all users. Are law enforcement agencies, the shipping industry, security analysts as well as the general public getting the right information and picture?

The event, ‘Do we have the right data for fighting maritime piracy?’, will answer these questions by drawing upon insights from the new report and through discussion with different stakeholders and experts.

The discussion will be chaired by Christian Bueger, Co-Director of SafeSeas and professor at the University of Copenhagen.

To keep up to date with SafeSeas activities, follow us on twitter or subscribe to our email list. Stable Seas can be followed here.

New Report: What we know about piracy

SafeSeas is pleased to announce the first report resulting from collaboration with Stable Seas: What we know about Piracy

Click here for the full report

Royal Navy and Royal Marines Commandos board a Somalian whaler in the Indian Ocean off the Horn of Africa, By Royal Navy

Authored by Lydelle Joubert, the report draws on desk-based research conducted between June 2019 and March 2020. It provides a systematic overview of data, answering the questions:

  • How is data on piracy and armed robbery collected?
  • By whom?
  • What kinds of information are available?
  • How accessible is the data?
  • What are the blind spots?

Asking these questions is of key importance. Analysis of piracy data can strengthen maritime domain awareness and give a predictive capability to help manage unavoidable security risks. However, this predictive capability will be limited as long as essential elements of information are lacking. Through the identification of what data is being collected and what gaps remain, this report marks an important first step in improving analysis.

It is the first of three reports that will be produced by the collaborative efforts of SafeSeas and Stable Seas, and will be followed by similar data overviews on smuggling at sea and on maritime environmental crimes.

The release of the report will be accompanied by a webinar event on the 9th of June, details of which can be found here.

To keep up to date with SafeSeas activities, follow us on twitter or subscribe to our email list. Stable Seas can be followed here.

Relaunch of SafeSeas newsletter

SafeSeas is pleased to announce the relaunch of its newsletter. Sent out every two months, it will serve as a digest of recent SafeSeas’ activity. Updates will also be sent to you directly to inform you of our events, publications, and resources.

With an exciting range of events and publications forthcoming from multiple projects, now is the perfect time to join the SafeSeas maritime security community.

You can subscribe to the newsletter to the right-hand side of this page or here

Updates can also be followed as they happen on the safeseas website.

Student Conference on Maritime Security

On the 6th and 7th of May the 2nd annual student conference on maritime security was held in collaboration with the scholars from the SafeSeas network. At the conference students reported on the results of the research projects that they have been carrying out in relation to the seminar on maritime security at the University of Copenhagen. Diverse topics were covered including smuggling at sea, the regional dynamics in the Barent Sea and Arctic as well as the link between infrastructures, energy security and maritime security. Overall 30 contributions were discussed. This year the meeting was held on zoom.