Safe Seas Network

SafeSeas is a network of researchers who investigate maritime security. Our focus is on issues of security at sea, ocean governance and ‘blue crimes’. SafeSeas produces original research, commentary and guidance for policy makers and practitioners on security governance, capacity building and regional cooperation in the maritime environment. Find out more on the SafeSeas website at Safe Seas Network

The current re-evaluation of the maritime as a space of insecurity and economic opportunity has led to a growing awareness for the weak capacities of the majority of coastal states. 

SafeSeas supports activities including: protecting territorial waters and Exclusive Economic Zones, preventing maritime crimes, such as piracy and illegal fishing, and ensuring the sustainable exploitation of maritime resources requires significant law enforcement capacities, information sharing tools and working maritime governance structures.

Safe Seas is in the process of building an evidence base on Transnational Organised Crime at Sea (TOCAS) funded by the Economic and Social Research Council of the UK and also develops regional guides for several maritime regions.

Best practice toolkit: Mastering Maritime Security

The SafeSeas Network develops key guidelines and best practices for maritime security governance and law enforcement, and the coordination, programming and implementation of maritime security capacity building.

"Mastering Maritime Security: Reflexive Capacity Building and the Western Indian Ocean Experience" is an important toolkit for all practitioners involved in maritime security, providing essential guidance on the planning, programming and implementation of capacity building for maritime security.


Safe Seas key findings and policy implications

  • Capacity building is a political process that entails a distribution of power and authorities.
  • Gaps in existing capacities are best identified through participatory processes that include all users of the sea, such as the drafting of maritime security strategies or marine spatial plans.
  • Local ownership is an important guiding principle – but its meaning is contested and requires continuous negotiation between donors and receives.
  • One of the priorities of capacity building must be strengthening knowledge about the sea, in particular Maritime Domain Awareness. Knowledge provides the key basis for cooperation and dealing with complexity.
  • Technology and knowledge transfer need to be tailored to the local situation. Careful consideration is required as to which technologies are appropriate in a local context and which essential skills are necessary.
  • The synergies between maritime security, the blue economy and sustainable development need to be better realised.
  • Enforcement and policing at sea can have an important deterrent effect but do little to address either the land based organisational structures behind the crimes or their structural causes.
  • Effectively tackling Blue Crime also incorporates sustainable development in coastal communities, criminal investigative capacities on land and the role of – often external – markets in driving the demand for goods such as illegally caught fish.
  • Capacity building should focus on both the state and society, and community organisations.
  • Dedicated local analytical capacities, such as research institutions are required to ensure that maritime security is recognized as political priority and that external actors can draw on local knowledge.


Recent commentaries, videos and policy papers (selected) 

Fernandina ship image

Current members: 

Professor Timothy Edmunds (lead)

Dr Scott Edwards

Dr Sofia Galani

Christian Bueger (University of Copenhagen)


Policy outputs

Best Practice Toolkit 

Related Research Centre

The Global Insecurities Centre 

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