Transnational Organised Crime at Sea: New Evidence, for Better Responses (TOCAS)

Principal Investigator

Professor Tim Edmunds, University of Bristol


Professor Christian Bueger, University of Copenhagen

Project Summary

Transnational organised crime at sea has emerged as a significant concern for security actors and law enforcement. Piracy off the coast of Somalia and elsewhere, the use of the sea for trafficking of humans, drugs or arms and as a conduit for extremism, and pervasive illegal fishing and waste dumping activities in the Global South are recognised as major challenges.

Yet, the maritime dimension of organised crime remains one of the least studied areas of international security studies and criminology. Evidence that can inform political and security responses on a national, regional or international level is weak, particularly in terms of how different maritime crimes, such as piracy, illegal fishery, or smuggling relate to and reinforce each other. Such knowledge is not only vital to protect maritime zones and safeguard maritime borders, but also to ensure the freedom of navigation and safety of shipping. In the global South, it is a vital element in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals through advancing the blue economy.

The TOCAS project examines these issues in the Indo-Pacific region, including the Western Indian Ocean, South East Asia and South Pacific sub-regions. In so doing it, first, brings together existing research on maritime crime from different disciplinary backgrounds and data sources to develop an evidence base for policy making. Second, it compares across sub-regions to examine how international actors are interacting, cooperating and sharing experience on these issues. Finally, it develops essential guidelines and an outline of best and promising practices for how to tackle maritime crime.


This research is premised on close collaboration with maritime security practitioners, and includes partnerships with Global Maritime Crime Programme of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and Stable Seas Programme of the One Earth Future Foundation. Working with these stakeholders, and drawing on the evidence gathered, it will identify promising practices to assist maritime practitioners in working together to prevent transnational maritime crime and facilitate the transfer of such practices across regions through project events, publications, and dissemination activities and through our website at

Contact Information

For further information, please email Professor Edmunds at, or visit