Christian Bueger


IUCN World Conservation Congress in Marseille

I am back from a short visit to Marseille where I had the pleasure to visit the IUCN World Conservation Congress. It was great to see so much attention for the state of the oceans and to learn about ongoing and planned conservation projects. The support for the moratorium on deep sea bed mining and the call for a reform of the International Seabed Authority was one of the important outcomes.

It was also great to learn about the “Great Blue Wall” Initiative which will be an important experiment in regional integration to follow over the coming years. Most certainly regional integration is part of the answer, but we shouldn’t forget the importance of national capacity and local expertise as these initiatives unfold.

The Congress left me with two thoughts. IUCN is a world of enthusiasm and hope that indeed the oceans can be better protected. What I missed is perhaps a bit more pragmatism. ‘Blue economy’ and ‘blue finance’ – ocean science driven, new planning and innovative finance models – are ambiguous concepts. Some of the initiatives appear to be a continuation of technocratic planning models or liberal market dreams.

It seems that the question of distributive justice, how the costs, risks and revenues are distributed (blue justice!) does get too little attention. While the world most certainly needs blue economy entrepreneurs, some more caution for counter-intuitive consequence and the impact on communities would be welcome.

The congress also showed how far apart the worlds of ocean conservation and maritime security are. Those interested and in charge for maritime security meet at very different sites than the conversation community. There is little crossover or dialogue.

The gap continues to puzzle me. Isn’t it obvious that protected areas require agencies that ‘protect’ and enforce regulations? We will need marine rangers, coast guards and navies to do this job. And isn’t it obvious that the most immediate threats to marine biodiversity come from environmental crimes such as illegal fishing or deliberate pollution, or shipping accidents and oil spills as we could witness in Mauritius and Sri Lanka in the last year?

Better integrating the different ocean agendas – maritime security, blue economy, blue justice – will be one of the key challenges in the year to come. It would be great news if the next IUCN Congress or one of the several upcoming international ocean conferences would send a signal in this regards.


What is the state of the EU’s maritime security strategy?

The Portuguese presidency of the Council of the EU has made quite some efforts to lift maritime security higher on the agenda of the EU. To reflect on the state of EU maritime security provision, Portugal organized a mini away day of the EU Military Committee on 2 June 2021.

I had the pleasure to speak at the event alongside the keynote speaker Mr Kitack Lim, Secretary General of the International Maritime Organization, and the Portuguese Special Representative for Maritime Security in the Gulf of Guinea.

In my talk I reviewed the current strategy choices of the EU. I highlighted a number of current challenges, which includes in what kind of command structures the EU operates abroad to address piracy and other blue crimes, the relationship to NATO’s work on maritime security, and the issues linked to the Brexit process.

I also argued for the need to pay more attention to arising matters, including the environmental security agenda at sea, the consequences of climate change, and the importance of subsea data cables.

I concluded in suggesting to revisit the EU Maritime Security Strategy and calling for an open dialogue with NATO on the matter.


Attending SHADE: The key military coordination mechanism in the Western Indian Ocean

The Shared Awareness and Deconfliction (SHADE) mechanism is a brainchild of the responses to piracy off the coast of Somalia. It is the key instrument through which the various navies coordinate each others activities and arrange for the International Coordinated Transit Corridor, and convoys and patrols in the Western Indian Ocean region. It is also the main mechanism through which the transport industry and navies collaborate on a strategic level. The successful coordination in SHADE is one of the key factors explaining the decline of Somali piracy.

On the 27th of May, the 48th SHADE meeting took place as usually held in Bahrain. This time it was complemented by an online participation platform through which I had the honor to address the participants.

At the meeting, I presented some of the key insights from the SafeSeas survey of regional maritime security alignments in the Indo Pacific. I provided an overview and emphasized that institutional proliferation is problematic. In consequence, SHADE must ask how it sits in this environment, and how it wants to continue its work in the long run.

This is ever more important as SHADE in the meantime is a platform for discussing various maritime security issues. As reflected in the presentations at the meeting this includes, illegal fishing, smuggling, or the security situations around the Yemeni coast and Strait of Hormuz.


Presentation at NATO Maritime Security Conference

What are the consequences of the Anthropocene for maritime security? How will climate change and heigthened awareness for marine conservation impact blue crimes and the work of maritime security forces?

These are the questions that I address in a talk given at the NATO Maritime Security Centre of Excellence 2020 conference on September 16th.

A video of the presentation is available here.


Presentation at African Maritime Collaborative Working Group

On July 16th I had the pleasure to give a presentation on our our new project AMARIS to the African Maritime Collaborative Working Group by the US government. The group seeks to gather the US government’s “African Maritime Community of Interest in an open thought-provoking environment, […] to better enable US participation in African and worldwide maritime Domain Integration and Security Awareness.”

In the presentation I set out the core objectives of AMARIS for understanding the maritime security situation in Ghana, and what broader lessons can be gained from it. I particularly highlighted the potential of our training school to form a sustainable network of maritime security analysts.


Awareness Meeting of the IFC

The Information Fusion Center (IFC) based in Singapore is one of the most important regional maritime security information sharing centers. One of their core functions is to collect and distribute information on maritime security incidents to an international public and in particular the international shipping community.

One of the formats that the IFC uses is the so-called Shared Awareness Meeting (known as SAM). SAM takes place every couple of months and it is usually a half day meeting in Singapore bringing the regional stakeholders together. On the 15th of July I had the opportunity to participate in the 35th SAM. Due to Covid restrictions it was held for the first time completely virtual. The meeting attracted an unprecedented number of 200 participants.

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UNODC Expert Meeting in Mauritius

From the 14th to 18th of October the UN Office on Drugs and Crime’s Global Maritime Crime Programme (GMCP) is hosting its Legal Expert Network meeting in Mauritius. Part of the meeting is to review the forthcoming 3rd edition of Maritime Crime: A Manual for Criminal Justice Practitioners. This concerns in particular new chapters on ship rider provisions, on submarine cable protection as well as stateless vessels.

At the meeting I will be leading a brainstorming exercise on Transnational Maritime Environmental Crime drawing on work conducted in the Safeseas network new project Transnational Organised Crime at Sea (TOCAS). Arguing for distinguishing between three “blue crimes” (crimes against mobility, criminal flows, and environmental crime), I discuss illicit waste trade, pollution crimes, illegal extraction, and other damages to the marine environment and the respective legal regimes addressing these. Part of the discussion will be how to deal with the complexity of the environmental crime at sea regimes.


UNODC training week in Stellenbosch

From the 24th to 27th of September I will be attending the training week of UNODC’s Global Maritime Crime Programme (GMCP), held in Stellenbosch, South Africa. At the event I will deliver two training sessions. The first one looks at Environmental Crime at Sea, and is largely a scoping exercise, asking how we should conceptualise environmental crimes in the context of ocean governance and the anthroprocene. The second session focuses on Maritime Security Governance drawing on the SafeSeas Best Practice Toolkit and the governance model presented there as well as the relevance of maritime security strategy. I will also chair a public roundtable jointly organised with SIGLA. The roundtable is titled “Caught between AIMS-2050 and Lomé: Why do African states still not care about the seas and oceans?”. It features a range of South Africa based maritime security experts and investigates the reasons for the lack of attention in African states for ocean governance and maritime security.


Presentation on Maritime Domain Awareness

Danish Navy in Port

This week the industry fair MAST Northern Coasts was held in Copenhagen, bringing a range of international naval and industry representatives to the city. The exhibition was accompanied by a small conference at which I had the pleasure to give a talk on maritime domain awareness (MDA). Drawing on the research on MDA in different regions, I looked into the questions of what is difficult in implementing MDA and why we don’t see the emergence of a Baltic regional MDA structure.


Maritime Security training Course in U.S.

From the 21st to 27th of July I attended a training course on Civil-Military Approaches for Maritime Security organised by the Institute for Security Governance, in Monterey, CA. The course is part of the US capacity building work on maritime security and taught since 2008. As part of the course I delivered a module on maritime domain awareness, relying on my 2015 article on Maritime Domain Awareness in Southeast Asia as well as the results of the SafeSeas Best Practice Toolkit and the model of maritime security governance it outlines. I also reviewed the core ideas behind Maritime Domain Awareness, and discussed with the participants the core hindrances to information sharing.