Maritime security is of critical importance to the UK. 95 per cent of all UK imports and exports move by sea through over 400 British ports. UK waters host rich fishing grounds, critical infrastructure such as undersea cables, oil rigs and wind farms, as well as seven coastal nuclear power stations. Taken together, the UK maritime economy is worth £14 billion per year.
However, it is only recently that maritime security has attracted attention in UK security policy debates. In part in response to the Brexit process, the UK has embarked on a transformation of its maritime security arrangements and architectures, culminating with the publication of a new National Strategy for Maritime Security in 2022.
SafeSeas conducts research on UK maritime security threats, risks and responses. We raise awareness of the importance of maritime security issues in wider security policy debates and advise government on the UK maritime security response.
Since 2019, SafeSeas has brought together policy makers, practitioners, and academic stakeholders in UK maritime security, and provided expertise and advice on UK strategy and policy to government.
In February 2020, we held our first Bristol IdeasLab on UK maritime security after Brexit to identify responses and priorities for policy and research in UK maritime security governance. This event helped to set the agenda for a refresh of the UK’s National Strategy for Maritime Security (NSMS), to be published in 2022.
SafeSeas was invited to advise the Department for Transport writing team and the government’s cross-departmental Maritime Threat Group over the course of this process. We also produced multiple commentaries, blogs, and articles to inform public and political debate on key maritime security issues throughout 2019-22.
In June 2022 SafeSeas held a second Bristol IdeasLab on Implementing the 2022 National Strategy for Maritime Security. This high-level event took place in collaboration with the Department for Transport and UK Joint Maritime Security Centre. It brought together key stakeholders from across government to reflect on lessons learned from the 2022 NSMS process and reflect on implementation challenges going forward.
SafeSeas regularly submits evidence to UK parliamentary enquiries on issue of maritime security. See below for details.
Find out more in our articles and commentaries
- Time to make it count: implementing the UK’s new maritime security strategy. Policy report summarising the debate and findings of the second Bristol IdeasLab on Implementing the 2022 National Strategy for Maritime Security. Edmunds. July 2020
- Sending in the Royal Navy is not the answer to small boat migration in the Channel. SafeSeas commentary on UK government plans to the navy in charge of policing small boat crossings in the English Channel. Edmunds and Edwards. January 2022
- Mapping the illicit e-waste trade between the UK and Ghana SafeSeas research report on the problem of e-waste trafficking, conducted in partnership with the UK Partnership for Conflict, Crime and Security Research. Iddrisu. July 2021.
- Jersey fishing dispute: why the UK sent in the Navy and how to resolve the spat. SafeSeas commentary on the dispute between Jersey and French fishers over access to Jersey waters and the UK response. Edwards and Edmunds. May 2021
- Innovation and New Strategic Choices: Refreshing the UK’s National Strategy for Maritime Security. Article in the RUSI Journal analysing the context for the UK’s 2022 National Maritime Security Strategy refresh and outlining key choices for strategy makers Bueger, Edmunds and Edwards. Sept. 2021
- What the Nave Andromeda incident tells us about UK maritime security. SafeSeas commentary on the suspected hijacking of the Nave Andromeda tanker by stowaways off the southern coast of the UK. Edwards and Edmunds. 30 October 2021
- Why are more small boats crossing the English Channel – and why are border forces struggling to stop them?. SafeSeas commentary analysing the small boats migrant crisis in the English Channel and the UK response to it. Edwards and Edmunds. August 2020
- Brexit: how the UK is preparing to secure its seas outside the EU. SafeSeas commentary on the UK maritime security response to the Brexit process. Edwards and Edmunds. April 2020
- Delivering UK maritime security after Brexit: time for a joined-up approach. Policy report summarising the debate and findings of the first Bristol IdeasLab on UK Maritime Security after Brexit. Edmunds and Edwards. March 2020
- Brexit’s challenge to maritime security. SafeSeas commentary on the challenges posed to UK maritime security governance by the Brexit process. Edmunds and Ryan. October 2019
Parliamentary evidence submissions
- Written evidence to House of Commons Defence Committee inquiry on UK Defence and the Indo-Pacific. Edwards, Malik and Yates. March 2022.
- Written evidence to House of Commons Defence Committee inquiry on the role of the military in countering migrant crossings (Operation Isotrope). Edmunds and Edwards. January 2022.
- Written evidence to House of Lords International Relations and Defence Committee inquiry on UNCLOS: fit for purpose in the 21st Century?. Bueger, Edmunds, Edwards, Germond, Liebetrau, and Stockbruegger. November 2021.
- Written evidence to Home Affairs Committee enquiry on Channel crossings, migration and asylum-seeking routes through the EU. Evans, Singleton, Edmunds, Prabhat and Galani. September 2020