'Blue boats' and 'reef robbers': a new maritime security threat for the Asia Pacific?

Song, Andrew M., Hoang, Viet Thang, Cohen, Philippa J., Aqorau, Transform, Morrison, Tiffany H., and UNSPECIFIED (2019) 'Blue boats' and 'reef robbers': a new maritime security threat for the Asia Pacific? Asia Pacific Viewpoint, 60 (3). pp. 310-324.

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Abstract

Vietnamese 'blue boats' - small wooden-hulled fishing boats - are now entering the territorial waters of Pacific Island countries and illegally catching high-value species found on remote coastal reefs. Crossing several international boundaries and traversing a distance of over 5000 km, these intrusions have alarmed Oceanic countries, including Australia. Lacking administrative capacity as well as jurisdictional authority to effectively control the vast stretches of island coastlines individually, governments and intergovernmental bodies in the region have called for strengthened coordination of surveillance efforts while also pressuring Vietnam diplomatically. This paper reviews these latest developments and is the first to provide a focused assessment of the issue. Through the lens of Copenhagen School of securitisation theory, we analyse responses of national and regional actors and their portrayal in online media to understand how blue boats are constructed as a security threat within a narrative of maritime, food and human security. Arguably, Australia together with the Forum Fisheries Agency, who advise on the governance of offshore tuna resources, have so far acted most decisively - in a way that might see them extend their strategic role in the region. We propose a comprehensive empirical research agenda to better understand and manage this nascent, flammable and largely unpredictable inter-regional phenomenon.

Item ID: 61241
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1467-8373
Copyright Information: © 2019 The Authors. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution‐NonCommercial‐NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non‐commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.
Funders: Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
Projects and Grants: ACIAR project FIS/2016/300
Date Deposited: 18 Dec 2019 07:55
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1604 Human Geography > 160403 Social and Cultural Geography @ 50%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1606 Political Science > 160605 Environmental Politics @ 30%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1605 Policy and Administration > 160507 Environment Policy @ 20%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9607 Environmental Policy, Legislation and Standards > 960701 Coastal and Marine Management Policy @ 60%
94 LAW, POLITICS AND COMMUNITY SERVICES > 9403 International Relations > 940301 Defence and Security Policy @ 20%
83 ANIMAL PRODUCTION AND ANIMAL PRIMARY PRODUCTS > 8302 Fisheries - Wild Caught > 830203 Wild Caught Edible Molluscs @ 20%
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