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Mastering Maritime Security: promoting best practice in guardianship of the sea

Press release issued: 8 March 2018

Tackling maritime security is one of the major global challenges today. More than 90% of trade takes place by sea, with over 10,000 million tons of cargo transported via the world’s oceans every year. International security, the blue economy, and ocean health depend upon effective guardianship of the sea.

Experts at the Universities of Bristol and Cardiff have produced a toolkit for policymakers and practitioners involved in maritime security. This essential guide builds on research conducted by the British Academy funded Safe Seas project ( to present a new model for capacity building and governance in maritime security, drawing on experience in the Western Indian Ocean.

The report calls for greater recognition, on the part of politicians, of the challenges of maritime security: “Lack of awareness of the importance of the sea means that it can be an uphill struggle to gain political attention or resources for revising maritime security policies and building capacity”, said lead authors Professor Tim Edmunds of the University of Bristol and Professor Christian Bueger of the University of Cardiff. Maritime security practitioners need to adopt a holistic view of maritime security and understand the linkages between problems and the unintended consequences of responses.

The report also argues that the delivery of maritime capacity building needs to become more effective. It includes recommendations for organising maritime security governance; making full use of data and intelligence from human sources such as social media; negotiating and coordinating external assistance; and working harder to bring the voices of local actors into these processes. Implementing these guidelines will promote the mastery of maritime security and the design of reforms that are sustainable, efficient and responsive to changing environments on land and at sea.

The toolkit will be launched at an international symposium, taking place in Nairobi on 2nd March 2018, with an opening address by H.E. Peter Thompson, the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean. The symposium will bring together academics, practitioners and policy makers to take stock of maritime security capacity building activities to date and ask how they can be strengthened in future.

Further information

The toolkit can be accessed here

The report includes an annotated list of other guidance documents relevant to policy makers and practitioners in maritime security. 

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