n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - Maritime piracy and conservation crime in Africa : has the die been cast for an environmental disaster?

Volume 26, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



Maritime piracy or buccaneering, as it is also occasionally, albeit inexactly, referred to, despite being one of the world's oldest crimes, is only now garnering increased attention from academics as the phenomenon slowly becomes more pervasive. Typically piracy has been linked to its detrimental economic, international, trade route, security and humanitarian effect, but seldom has more than a passing glance been directed at the obtrusive potential for huge environmental damage within the conservation crime context. Although the inherent environmental dangers associated with maritime piracy have only been ephemerally alluded to, this area of concern has, as far as can be ascertained, not been extensively interrogated and/or afforded the status commensurate to its threat and potential to foment sinister and innovative criminality in the maritime crime arena. As no environmental disaster has yet occurred off the coast of Africa or elsewhere as the result of piracy, no empirical data is available for research. The authors have thus relied on secondary data from authoritative international organisations, responsible for various aspects of safety at sea, to map actual recent incidents and on which to base predictions. This article seeks to contextualise and expose the conservation crime threat that piracy poses and to serve not only as a caveat to both bureaucrats and practitioners regarding this imminent threat, but also to stimulate further interest, investigation, and research on this issue.

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