What We Know About Maritime Environmental Crime is the third 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, Stable Seas, and the One Earth Future Foundation. It 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.
Similar to our previous report on piracy, and report on maritime illicit trades, this paper provides an overview of what we know about maritime environmental crimes, how data is collected, what information is available, and which organizations are analyzing these data.
The paper focuses specifically on three crimes which together make up the most visible and emblematic examples of maritime environmental crime: marine pollution; illegal mining, resource extraction, and dredging; and fisheries crimes. The scope of maritime environmental crime is broader than just these three, yet the breadth and relative infrequency of other environmental crimes mean that significantly less data is available on the others.
The paper finds that available data about maritime environmental crime is fragmented by issue and geography, and most typically focuses on the aggregate results of the crimes rather than direct monitoring of criminal activity. Data gaps should be identified and acknowledged to help guide future collection and in order to overcome the current imbalance towards collecting data on certain forms of maritime crime.
More efforts should also be made to aggregate data, especially around different forms of pollution and various fisheries crimes, to better recognize convergences and synergies.
The report was authored by Tyler Lycan and Lexie Van Buskirk, with contributions from Professor Christian Bueger, Professor Timothy Edmunds, Dr. Scott Edwards, and Dr. Conor Seyle