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About this book

From pirates to smugglers, migrants to hackers, from stolen fish to smuggled drugs, the sea is becoming a place of increasing importance on the global agenda as criminals use it as a theatre to conduct their crimes unfettered. This volume sets out to provide an introduction to the key issues of pertinence in Maritime Security today. It demonstrates why the sea is a space of great strategic importance, and how threats to security at sea have a real impact for people around the world. It examines an array of challenges and threats to security playing out at sea, including illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, irregular migration, piracy, smuggling of illicit goods, and cyber security, while also looking at some of the mechanism and role-players involved in addressing these perils. Each chapter provides an overview of the issue it discusses and provides a brief case study to illustrate how this issue is playing out in real-life. This book thus allows readers an insight into this evolving multidisciplinary field of study. As such, it makes for an informative read for academics and practitioners alike, as well as policymakers and students, offering a well-rounded introduction of the main issues in current Maritime Security.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1. Introducing Maritime Security: The Sea as a Geostrategic Space

The seas have more recently come into the view of states, beyond those that have traditionally held sea power, to be seen as a new frontier for economic development. At its most basic level of reasoning, therefore, there can be seen to be an incentive for states to provide security in their territorial waters, but also to contribute to good order on the high seas. Beyond this, however, it is evident that the sea is also of importance to states as they have traditionally used their access to the sea and ability to traverse its waters as a means to expand their empires and spheres of influence. Thus, economics, politics, security, and strategic interests merge at sea, and much as maritime security has, in practice, a history spanning hundreds of years, these interconnected interests have only more recently spawned the nascent discipline of maritime security. This chapter considers the emergence of Maritime Security, its history, and its relevance as a field of study by locating the seas as a geostrategic space, and drawing on China’s String of Pearls as an illustrative case study. The discussion in this chapter lays the foundation for the chapters that follow.
Lisa Otto

Chapter 2. Oceans and Blue Economies

Worldwide, nations and regions are increasingly advancing their oceans or blue economies to expand their economic growth and food and energy security through the growth of established marine sectors, the expansion of historically terrestrial sectors into the marine space, or as emergent sector technologies advance marine resource accessibility. Such ocean economy sectoral expansions are in many cases limited to the coastal or shallow shelf regions of a country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) resulting in considerable potential for inter-sectoral and / or sectoral-environmental conflict in these regions. Concurrent indirect pressures (e.g. climate change or ocean acidification) arising from increasing human resource consumption potentially further erode the function of ocean ecosystems which provide the ecosystem service foundations of many ocean economy goods and services. Ocean governance policy formulation requires trade-offs that are valuation dependent across the economic, social and environmental domains for the mitigation of both inter-sectoral and sectoral-environmental conflicts and sustainable and equitable resource use encapsulated within the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Maritime safety and security are critical within such governance frameworks and are both enablers of the blue economy (through asset and revenue protection) and a potential sectoral source of economic development and growth within blue economies.
Ken P. Findlay

Chapter 3. Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing as a Maritime Security Concern

This chapter explores the meaning and features of illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing as a governance concept, from the fishery management context in which it was first conceived, to more recent associations with criminal activity. The nature of IUU fishing as a security concern is established by reference to its impacts on human communities, as well as its operational synergies with crime. The activity patterns and regulatory weaknesses that enable IUU fishing and related criminal activities are examined, with a focus on the role of States, as well as international organisations. The degree to which global and regional policy trends address such weaknesses is outlined, and significant innovations are identified, before concluding with some reflections on the potential of current approaches to respond to emerging maritime security concerns.
Mercedes Rosello

Chapter 4. Smuggling and Trafficking of Illicit Goods by Sea

“Transnational maritime crime is increasingly sophisticated, and it is expanding, both in terms of size and types of criminal activities…[t]hese crimes pose an immediate danger to people’s lives and safety, they undermine human rights, hinder sustainable development and… threaten international peace and security” – Yuri Fedotov, former executive director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 2019. The oceans provide a vast, uncontrolled arena to those engaged in illicit trade and transnational organised crime. Their activities include crimes which are maritime by nature, such as IUU fishing, as well as crimes which rely on the ocean for transport, such as drug – and wildlife trafficking. Organised criminal networks are moving these illicit commodities across the world’s oceans using both commercial transport and vessels used exclusively for trafficking purposes. This chapter explores the nature of smuggling and trafficking by sea, the international legal frameworks applicable thereto and considers the case study of heroin trafficking in the Indian Ocean to illustrate how illicit trade and counter-operations work in practice.
Carina Bruwer

Chapter 5. Migration, Seafarers and the Humanitarian-Security-Economic Regimes Complex at Sea

Undocumented migration across the maritime space poses different challenges to the maritime industry. By focusing on a hitherto overlooked group, seafarers, the chapter attempts to set their experiences in the maritime security research agenda by using the Mediterranean scene as a demonstrative case study. The chapter highlights the normative dilemma and conceptual limitation of reading undocumented migration at sea through a security lens alone. Instead, by focusing on the experiences of seafarers in relation to migrants at sea, the chapter draws from the literature on international regime complexity to frame the socio-legal, political and economic environment seafarers inhabit and operate in vis-à-vis migrants as a ‘humanitarian-security-economic regimes complex’. Using examples from the Mediterranean Sea, the chapter argues that the humanitarian, security and economic regimes within the complex place contradicting expectations on seafarers which entail significant tensions and lead to trade-offs such as instances of non-rescue. The chapter, thus, calls for more research into the experiences of seafarers which takes into account the nuances of the humanitarian, security and economic challenges they face when encountering migrants at sea.
Amaha Senu

Chapter 6. Maritime Piracy and Armed Robbery at Sea

Piracy is one of the oldest threats to maritime security. It was largely thought to have been eradicated by the 1830s in most of the world’s oceans, except for parts of Asia. However, from the late twentieth century and into the early twenty-first century, it has again emerged as a significant threat to international maritime safety and security. In the modern context, the Somali piracy epidemic in the late 2000s and early 2010s is perhaps best known, but is today most prevalent off the west coast of Africa in the Gulf of Guinea, and in Southeast Asia. However, international responses to piracy remain stymied by issues of international law, particularly definitional issues of what constitutes piracy as opposed to armed robbery at sea. As a result, the most effective responses to piracy have been at the level of regional initiatives. This is partly due to the fact that the causes of piracy and the type of piracy undertaken is largely driven by the geography of the littoral states and by political and economic developments on land. The threat of maritime piracy, and its distinction from armed robbery at sea, is examined in this chapter, with the case of Southeast Asia serving as a real-world illustration.
Lisa Otto, Leaza Jernberg

Chapter 7. Maritime Boundaries and Maritime Security

Delimitation of maritime boundaries is a complex process and worldwide a great number of maritime boundaries remain to be delimited. In some instances situations of outstanding delimitation may rise to the level of dispute, either concerning sovereignty over territory or overlapping maritime entitlements or a combination of the two. Unsettled maritime boundaries and maritime boundary disputes affect maritime security themselves and through their impact on jurisdiction, cooperation and economic activity. This chapter addresses the concept of maritime zones and the maritime boundaries, the basis for maritime boundary disputes, and the impact on maritime security before considering these issues in respect of a case study: the dispute between Somalia and Kenya currently before the International Court of Justice.
Victoria Mitchell

Chapter 8. Cybersecurity at Sea

Over the past few years there has been growing interest in the issues of cybersecurity and maritime security, but far too little attention has been paid to the combination of the two security problems; and yet there are clear and critical points of intersection. The dependence of the international maritime community on cyberspace is substantially increasing and, thus, forges new and unexpected vulnerabilities. Maritime transport and all related activities are conducted by technology-intensive platforms, which today rely heavily on information systems. The maritime community, consisting of maritime transport, port operations, critical offshore infrastructure and digital economic transactions is heavily structured around online systems. The chapter assesses the risks and vulnerabilities of the international maritime sector in regard to cybersecurity and identifies potential tools and international measures to enhance cyber resilience in the wider maritime security field. The chapter contributes to a deeper understanding of the wider dynamics of these implications, providing the basic principles, comprehension and framework in order to apply cyber resilience together with situational awareness, business continuity plan and risk management.
Polychronis Kapalidis

Chapter 9. Maritime Terrorism

Maritime terrorism remains a key issue on the maritime security agenda, notably following the attack on the Achille Lauro in 1985, and subsequently the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon in the United States of America. Despite data suggesting that maritime terrorism is an objectively small threat compared to international terrorism, cases of maritime terror detailed herein evidence the need for this issue to remain on the maritime security agenda. Indeed, the case studies provided of the Achille Lauro incident, and the USS Cole attack in 2000 (although not a frequent element of the responsible groups’ modus operandi) demonstrate how devastating such attacks can be when they occur, while those perpetrated more habitually by groups indicate the impacts of sustained attack for the economies and coastal communities of the affected states. This chapter thus sketches the emergence of maritime terrorism as an important concern in maritime security debates, considers what maritime terrorism is, what might take terrorists to sea, and what risks are posed in the maritime domain by terrorists, before discussing measures available to address maritime terrorism, and then laying out the abovementioned case studies.
Lisa Otto, Suzanne Graham, Adrienne Horn

Chapter 10. Port Security

The role of ports as nodes in global supply chains is crucial for international trade and their protection against security incidents is paramount. Prior to the 11th September 2001 terrorist attacks against New York and Washington DC, also known as 9/11, the types of security incidents in ports were largely smuggling by organised criminals, theft, and the presence of stowaways. Terrorist attacks against ports or shipping in ports was relatively rare. After 9/11, the focus moved to potential acts of terrorism and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) introduced the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code which mandated security procedures in the world’s ports that receive internationally trading vessels of 500 tons and more. Other initiatives included the United States of America’s (US) Maritime Transportation Security Act passed by Congress in November 2002, which included the Container Security Initiative and the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism. Since then the International Organisation for Standards has introduced ISO 28000 for Supply Chain Security. The enclosed case study highlights the need for effective cybersecurity in ports, as Dubai Ports (DP) World discovered to their cost in Antwerp in 2012.
Risto Talas

Chapter 11. The Successes and Struggles of Multilateralism: African Maritime Security and Strategy

Cooperation between states in multilateral institutions is acknowledged as one of the key ways to address common maritime security challenges. The transnational nature of crimes and threats at sea constrains the ability of states and agencies to cope and respond. A number of multilateral treaties and conventions play an important role in addressing these maritime security challenges by encouraging cooperation and the enforcement of common norms and rules. Research on multilateral cooperation regarding maritime security at the regional level is well advanced in both South East Asia and Europe, yet insufficient attention has been paid to similar multilateral cooperation initiatives in the African maritime security context. African multilateral cooperation involves some of the most complicated ongoing efforts in both establishing and consolidating maritime security cooperation between states. A detailed case study of African Union’s efforts to bring together its member states to address the maritime security challenges facing them helps illustrates some of background and theory, as well as successes and struggles, and contributes to a richer understanding of how multilateral cooperation influences and improves maritime security.
Timothy Walker

Chapter 12. The Role of Navies in the Contemporary Era

Navies remain primary political instruments of military coercion operating on and from the sea. In essence, navies exist to conduct naval warfare and are accordingly trained and equipped. Navies also experience constant pressures to respond to political demands to do more than warfighting, and these pressures compel navies as political instruments of policy to respond. As opposed to shedding warfighting roles, navies as flexible entities rather migrate along their role and task spectra to keep in step with changes and demands in their operating environment. Navies respond in different ways to keep in step with what the opposition and their policy-makers demand. Some navies execute several roles simultaneously, but prioritise warfighting capabilities while others prefer to dedicate their resources to roles below warfighting. Sri Lanka and countries bordering the Gulf of Guinea off West and Central Africa express how navies deal with threats below the warfighting level to protect their national interests. Navies tend to adapt to changes in their environment rather than shedding old and assuming new roles and tasks.
Francois Vreÿ, Mark Blaine

Chapter 13. Non-state Actors in the Maritime Domain: Non-state Responses to Maritime Security Challenges

Over the past decades, non-state actors have played an increasingly important role in the mitigation of maritime security challenges, particularly non-traditional security threats such as piracy, illegal fishing or human trafficking at sea. Among the most prominent of these non-state actors are Private Military and Security Companies (PMSCs) and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Taking a closer look at the activities of anti-piracy PMSCs and NGOs active in search and rescue (SAR) operations in the Mediterranean, this chapter examines the role of non-state actors in maritime security governance and assesses if their efforts work against or complement state responses to maritime security challenges.
Carolin Liss

Chapter 14. Connecting the Dots: Implications of the Intertwined Global Challenges to Maritime Security

Scholars have long discussed the land-sea nexus in the context of maritime security, and indeed in the exploration of the issues and challenges contemplated throughout these pages, we note that in the same way that the sea and land are connected beyond the shoreline where they meet, there are likewise many intersections between the global challenges to maritime security. In this chapter five connecting themes are identified, which draw together the threads weaving through the chapters of this book, specifically: the transnational nature of maritime threats, the role played by territoriality, the blue security nexus, the contribution of non-state actors to the maritime domain, and, lastly, the impact of technological developments. Further to connecting these dots, we synthesise a number of policy recommendations that emanate from within the chapters of this volume. These centre on cooperation (particularly in capacity building and information-sharing), appreciating the role of geopolitics and actively acknowledging this through the necessary legal instruments, an integrated approach toward sea-based economic activity, the need for platforms where private and public stakeholders can come together to coalesce around solutions to key problems, and preparing for and leaning on the challenges and opportunities presented by technological advances. Distilled further from this is the importance of maritime domain awareness, as policy interventions at the state-, regional-, and international levels all require an accurate picture of what is happening in the maritime domain. Lastly, we look to the areas in which new research must focus, in order to further develop our understanding of the intertwining of these various issues, but also to provide actionable inputs into policy processes.
Anja Menzel, Lisa Otto
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