In This Review

Oceans of Crime: Maritime Piracy and Transnational Security in Southeast Asia and Bangladesh
Oceans of Crime: Maritime Piracy and Transnational Security in Southeast Asia and Bangladesh
By Carolin Liss
Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2010, 446 pp
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This fact-filled, groundbreaking survey of piracy in the waters of Southeast Asia and Bangladesh -- the areas with the highest number of pirating incidents in the world -- reveals the problem’s many forms and causes. Pirates in these waters range from opportunistic amateurs to criminal syndicates. Cargo boats are the most frequently attacked, usually to be stripped of their cargoes but sometimes to be reused or sold. Local fishermen are robbed of their nets, engines, and catches, chiefly by other fishermen who are impoverished because overfishing has depleted fish populations. Local navies and coast guards are underequipped and sometimes corrupt. A lack of international coordination across complex maritime borders makes the job of securing the straits and intricate coastlines even more difficult. Private security companies have filled the gap to some extent, but they are virtually unregulated. Liss’ wide-ranging and detailed fieldwork validates her argument that piracy is an expression of deeper issues, ranging from coastal poverty to inadequate maritime regulatory regimes to the devastation of the ocean environment.