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Maritime Security Problems In Today’s World

Source: Engr. Rotimi Fabiyi

From sea terrorism, sea hijacking to pipeline bombings and deadly offshore armed piracy either in Nigeria’s Niger Delta region or Somalia’s deep water sea coast, the world today is facing more maritime security problems than ever in world history.

The word security is defined as the degree or resistance to, or protection from, harm and it applies to any vulnerable and valuable asset such as a person, dwelling, community, item, nation or organization (Fabiyi:2016 , Wikipedia: 2016 A). Security is also defined as the state of being protected or safe from harm, the freedom from danger, fear or anxiety, and the measures taken to guard against espionage or sabotage, crime, attack or escape (Fabiyi: 2016 , Merriam-Webster: 2015). The word maritime is defined as anything relating to navigation or commerce on the sea (Merriam-Webster: 2016) though another source defines it as anything connected with the sea or any navigable water body, especially in relation to seaborne trade, river commerce or naval matters (Oxford Dictionary: 2016).

Maritime security is therefore defined as the state of being protected or safe from harm, the freedom from danger, fear or anxiety, and the measures taken to guard against espionage or sabotage, crime, or attack in connection with the sea or any navigable water body, especially in relation to seaborne trade, river commerce or naval matters.

Types Of Maritime Security Activities In Today’s World

There are 3 types of maritime security activities in today’s world viz port security, vessel security and facility security (Wikipedia: 2016 B).

  • Port Security - this refers to the defense, law, treaty enforcement, and counterterrorism activities that fall within the port and maritime domain and it includes the protection of seaports, the protection and inspection of the cargo moving through the ports, and maritime security (Greenberg, et al: 2008 , Frittelli : 2003, Wikipedia: 2016C).
  • Vessel Security-this refers to the law, treaty enforcement, defence, and counterterrorism activities directed at vessels (ships, ocean liners, submarines, etc) either on international seas or on inland water ways (Department of Homeland Security: 2015)
  • Facility Security- this refers to the law, defence , and counter terrorism activities directed at offshore and waterside facilities like floating oil stations, offshore oil rigs,etc (American Fuel and Petroleum Manufacturers: 2015).

Maritime Security Threats In Today’s World

There are several maritime security threats that are faced or could be faced while trying to ensure a safe maritime environment. Some of these maritime security threats are

  • Illegal offshore fishing
  • Illegal offshore oil exploration
  • Illegal human trafficking
  • Hijacking, piracy, and sea robbery
  • Illegal offshore dumping of toxic or radioactive wastes into water
  • Smuggling of drugs, weapons, currency, contraband goods, etc
  • Excessive water pollution

(Liddick: 2014, Australian Government Department of Immigration and Border Protection: 2016)

Importance of Maritime Security In Today’s World

The importance of maritime security could not be trivialized because of their high value. Some of the importance of maritime security and safety in the contemporary world are

  1. Reduction in the high level of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (officially known as IUU fishing) which had initially led to the depletion of fish stocks, damage to coral reefs, stress on marine mammals, and near extinction of some fish species (Liddick: 2014).
  2. Combating the menace of illegal offshore oil exploration which has for long been a source of loss of revenue for countriesthat legitimately own the oil fields on the territorial waters (Sanchez: 2015).
  3. Maritime security is important in the area of helping to combat and reduce the scourge of illegal human trafficking on the seas (Lazarus: 2016).
  4. Maritime security is important in the area of combating terrorism on the seas (Luft and Korin: 2004).
  5. Maritime security is important in helping to curb the numerous incidences of sea robbery, piracy on the seas, and hijacking of ships and other ocean-going vessels (Kraska and Wilson: 2011, Kelly: 2014)
  6. Adequate maritime security reduces the incidence of illegal dumping of toxic or radioactive wastes into water bodies (Wigington: 2015).
  7. Adequate maritime security helps in the reduction of large scale water pollution problems (Rinkesh: 2015).

Legal Background For International Maritime Security And The Role Of International Maritime Organization In Maritime Security In Today’s World

Many countries of the world have some laws guiding their national maritime safety, examples of which are the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 (also known as MTSA) which was enacted by the Government of the United States in response to the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attacks and which provides sweeping new authorities for preventing acts of terrorism with United States maritime waters (Lyons: 2003)and the Admiralty Jurisdiction Decree No 59 of 1991 which was enacted by the Federal Government of Nigeria to help it monitor both its inland waterways and its share of the high seas (B. Ayorinde & Co : 2014).

Interesting and important as these two Act and Decree are in their respective countries, the provisions therein are enforceable only within the national boundaries of the respective countries. It is for this reason that the International Maritime Organization, IMO was formed as a specialized agency of the United Nations in 1948 , came into force 10 years later in 1959 and currently has 171 world countries as members and 3 other countries choosing to be only associate members (International Maritime Organization: 2016).

The International Maritime Organization has the responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships, something achievable only through the development and maintenance of comprehensive regulatory framework for shipping activities in terms of safety, environmental concerns, legal matters, technical cooperation, maritime security, and shipping efficiency (Wikipedia: 2016 C).

The legal framework on which the International Maritime Organization functions in the present day is the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code , ISPS Code (Bergqvist : 2014). Enacted in 2002 and coming into force in 2004, it prescribes responsibilities to governments, shipping companies, shipboard personnel, port personnel and facility personnel to detect security threats and take preventive measures against security incidents affecting ships or port facilities used in international trade (Wikipedia: 2016 D)

For ships, ISPS Code legal framework includes requirements for

  1. Ship security plans
  2. Ship security officers
  3. Company security officers
  4. Certain onboard equipment

(Wikipedia: 2016 D)
For port facilities, ISPS Code legal framework includes requirement for

  1. Port facility security plans
  2. Port facility security officers
  3. Certain security requirements

(Wikipedia: 2016 D)
In addition to the aforelisted points, the requirements for ships and for port facilities include

  1. Monitoring and controlling access
  2. Monitoring the activities of people and cargo
  3. Ensuring that security communications are readily available

Methods Used In Maritime Security To Combat Maritime Security Threats In the Contemporary World

In the contemporary world, the main threats to maritime security are, as earlier stated, illegal offshore fishing, illegal human trafficking, smuggling, illegal offshore oil exploration, sea terrorism, large scale offshore water pollution, illegal offshore dumping of toxic and radioactive wastes, and the trio of hijacking, piracy and sea robbery.

Different methods are used to combat each maritime security threat, though it should be noted that all the methods are expensive in terms of cost but still infinitesimally cheap if one considers the value of the loss incurred from maritime security threats like piracy which cost the global economy an estimated 7 billion dollars in 2008 alone (Kelly: 2014).

Each maritime security threat with the methods used to combat it are listed below

  • Illegal Human Trafficking

This threat can be reduced and curtailed by

  1. Vigorous sea patrol by a joint multinational naval force
  2. The right to search any ship suspected of being involved in human trafficking
  3. Thorough patrol of the national waters of a country by its navy and other maritime forces

(Lyons: 2003, Kelly: 2014, Bergqvist: 2014, Lazarus: 2016)

  • Smuggling of weapons, drugs, etc
  1. Vigorous patrol by a joint multinational naval force
  2. The right to search any ship suspected of being involved in smuggling of weapons, drugs, etc.
  3. Through patrol of the national waters of a country by its navy and other maritime forces
  4. Liaising with justice departments of each country to create stiff penalties for persons found guilty of smuggling weapons, drugs, etc

(Bergqvist: 2014, Wikipedia: 2016 D, Association Press: 2014)

C. Illegal offshore oil exploration

  1. International efforts made to dissuade refineries from buying oil or other mineral resources illegal explored
  2. Vigorous patrol by a joint multinational naval force

(Sanchez: 2016, Wikipedia: 2016 D)
D. Illegal offshore fishing
This threat can be reduced and curtailed by

  1. Vigorous sea patrol by a joint multinational force
  2. The right to search any ship of being involved in illegal offshore fishing
  3. International efforts made to dissuade fishing industries from buying fish illegally harvested.

(Liddick : 2014, Bergqvist: 2014)
E. Sea terrorism (marine terrorism)
This threat can be reduced and curtailed by

  1. The right to search any vessel suspected of being or would be used for any form of terrorism
  2. Vigorous sea patrol by a joint multinational naval force
  3. Adequate training and certifying the security officers on ocean-going vessels in counterterrorism measures

(Luft and Korin: 2004, Lichtenwald, et al: 2012)
F. Illegal offshore dumping of toxic and radioactive wastes

This threat can be reduced and curtailed by

  1. International efforts to dissuade or stiffly penalize entitites that illegally dump toxic and radioactive wastes into water bodies
  2. Vigorous sea patrol by a joint multinational naval force
  3. The right to search any vessel suspected of being involved in transporting toxic or radioactive wastes to the high sea with the intention of dumping them therein

(Wigington: 2015, Hamilton: 1993)
G. Large scale offshore water pollution
This threat can be reduced and curtailed by

  1. Vigorous patrol of the sea by multinational naval force
  2. Enacting and enforcing laws that will impose stiff penalties on persons or firms found liable of causing offshore oil spillage
  3. The insistence of maritime agencies on vessels’ adherences to strict safety regimes

(Rinkesh: 2016, Beachapedia: 2016, Bernard: 2016)
H. Hijacking, piracy, and sea robbery
These 3 inter-related threats can be reduced and curtailed by

  1. International cooperation in the domain of imposing stiff penalties on apprehended hijackers, pirates and sea robbers
  2. Vigorous patrol of the seas by multinational naval force
  3. The use of anti-frogman techniques which are security methods developed to protect watercrafts, ports and installations, and sensitive resources both in and nearby vulnerable waterways from potential threats or intrusions.

Examples of anti-frogman weapons used in anti-frogman techniques are pepper spray, tear gas, taser, rubber bullets, depth charges, dazzlers, etc

(Kraska and Wilson: 2011, Kelly: 2014, Wikipedia: 2016 E)

The Concept Of Port Safety In Contemporary World

Port safety is a concept introduced into maritime security to prevent accidental damages to port facilities rather than intentional damages (Wikipedia: 2016 F). Activities carried out to ensure port safety include the monitoring of liquid and hazardous cargo transfers, monitoring of fuel transfers, explosive cargo loading supervision, closing a port as a preventive measure against natural disaster like hurricanes,etc.

It is important to note that port safety (which is concerned with accidents that harm people or property unintentionally) is different from port security which is concerned with deliberate acts intended to harm people or property

Conclusion
Adequate security on the maritime domain is no doubt of utmost importance because of the large volume of global trade transacted on the seas. In 2013 alone, the United States of America exported goods worth 555 billion dollars to regions around the Asia-Pacific Ocean (Kelly: 2014) and it has been estimated that 50,000 large ships ply the world’s seas annually in transaction of 80% of world’s traded cargo (Luft and Korin : 2004)

This fact , coupled with the necessity to save human lives and property , have made many countries make maritime security top on their national agenda by not only battling the threats to maritime security with manned naval force and air force but also with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) which will not only make the maritime security more efficient but also less dangerous to the maritime security personnel (Indian Express: 2016)

Due to this and many other reasons, the study of maritime security is worthy of the effort

REFERENCES

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