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Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Implementation and enforcement of maritime safety - A Swedish maritime security perspective

I was recently asked to write a text about maritime administrations. I choose to focus on maritime security and what a Swedish maritime administration in regards to maritime security is or should be: Below are some of the points I tried to make:

To enable economic stability and commerce, it is necessary to protect the free flow of goods shipped by sea (Council of the European Union, 2014, MNE 7, 2012, Secretary of Defense, 2012, Swedish Maritime Administration, 2014, Till, 2009). The shipping system is composed of many autonomous, but interconnected, actors (Swedish Maritime Administration, 2012) ranging from small local ship owners to large international ship operators.

Maritime security is addressed at many levels, from international bodies such as the United Nations (UN) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to single ship operators, but also by both military and civilian organizations. These levels and organizations are interconnected and a security decision made by one will affect the others (Liwång et al., 2015, Swedish Maritime Administration, 2012).

In this text a Maritime Administration is understood as the national body/bodies that issue government policy for ships and boating in relation to maritime safety and security (other important tasks in relation to areas such as environmental control, certificates of competency and representing the country on IMO and so on are not under study here).

For civilian ships and ports, today’s threats are managed through international maritime safety efforts regulated in the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) code (IMO, 2002) which puts substantial responsibility in relation to ship security, on the operators. The code was developed in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States. According to ship operators and security experts, the code does not guarantee secure shipping (Liwång et al., 2013, McNaught, 2005) and can only be considered as a first step (Mitropoulos, 2004). Also, the risk based security decisions taken by ship operators will only, at best, consider the specific operator’s commercial rationality, not the strategic interests of a region. Several Swedish studies has indicated a need for strengthening national transport coordination in response to crises, both as a result of a disruption of the transport system itself (Mötesplats Transporter, 2009, Samverkansområdet Transporter, 2007, Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency, 2014, Swedish Maritime Administration, 2012), but also to avoid that a crisis in other areas and sectors affect the transport system (Samverkansområdet Transporter, 2006, Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency, 2014, Swedish Maritime Administration, 2013, 2014). However, specific Swedish efforts for maritime security are hard to identify.

In Sweden the public debate in regard to maritime security has mostly been limited to piracy off Somalia and legal aspects of armed guards on ships, two issues with little relevance for maritime security in European waters. However, outside the public eye there have also been specific studies, analyses and exercises initiated by Swedish government agencies such as the Swedish Maritime Administration (Swedish Maritime Administration, 2006), the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (the exercise Pilot 2015) and the Swedish Armed Forces (a staff exercise regarding maritime security 2016) and academic studies, see for example University of Helsinki (2009). These works typically deal with a single terrorist attack against a ship under Swedish flag and includes several organizations and government agencies, but not a complete maritime security system perspective based on the nation’s strategic transport needs.

All states must consider the capabilities needed to ensure maritime security in relation to relevant security threats. According to a workshop with representatives from transport security stakeholders in Sweden there is a need for better knowing and understanding the risks in the transport system and for identifying an acceptable minimum level of the society’s protection (Mötesplats Transporter, 2009). Subsequently, a need for strengthening also the understanding of the maritime security system has been identified. Also, the existing research in maritime security is limited. Previous research, such as Bichou (2008), Liwång and Ringsberg (2013), Liwång et al. (2013) and Psarros et al. (2011), show that empiric data on the shipping system as well as on specific incidents is needed to be able to discuss measures and risk control options. It is also clear from the previous research on society protection in general, such as Cedergren and Tehler (2014), and on maritime security specifically, such as Schneider (2012), that measures are needed on several different levels of the system (Cordner, 2014).

To reduce the above-identified challenges there is a need for systems approach that examine different aspects and levels of the maritime security system and how the system delivers utility to a nation or region. Therefore, it must be made sure that maritime security capability (from a system perspective) is correctly designed and distributed between different system levels to ensure sufficient security. A nations maritime administration has a central role to play. However, also other stake holders take decisions that greatly affect maritime security. Such stake holders include autonomous ship operators as well as law enforcement agencies that both lack a system level knowledge. This aspect presents specific challenges for the region, nation, organization responsible for ensuring sufficient maritime security. From this it also follows that a system perspective on maritime security here means that maritime security is viewed in relation to the shipping system and its roles in a region. It also means that the focus is on a nation’s (or set of nations’) capabilities and efforts needed.

A need for a risk governance approach

Risk is not constant and especially security risks are subject to considerable degrees of uncertainty. The rarer the event, if predictable at all, the less reliable the historical data and the estimates based on them are (Aven & Krohn, 2014, IACS, 2012). Regulations, guidelines and methods in the field of maritime safety have a history and culture of systematic research, development and implementation (Kuo, 2007). In contrast, international security is highly politicised and therefore not as transparent (Wengelin, 2012). Therefore, the tradition of maritime security is not well established (McNaught, 2005), this affects the work performed at maritime administrations in relation to maritime security. Applying risk-based approaches to security areas requires special considerations. Therefore, there is a need for both further research and applied development of methods and tools. This development must be able to manage the new, more complex demands within maritime security (Department of Defense, 2007, McNaught, 2005).

It has been identified that a whole systems approach is needed for transport studies in general (Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency, 2014) and for maritime security specifically (Bateman, 2010, Schneider, 2012, Schofield et al., 2008) and therefore a framework for understanding the maritime security risk governance is here adopted. Here a risk governance process is understood as a set of activities and actions taken by various stakeholders to manage risk in a context characterized by uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. To be able analyse conditions where no single stakeholder can dictate the conditions the concept of risk governance has been introduced (Bateman, 2010, Cedergren & Tehler, 2014, Schneider, 2012). According to the research by Cedergren and Tehler (2014) there is, in risk governance, a need for taking into account the ways in which risk-related decision-making is performed in settings where many stakeholders are involved, and where these different stakeholders may hold diverse meanings of the concept of risk (Rasmussen, 1985). The approach therefore here aims to answers questions about the purpose, function, and form of a maritime security risk governance (Cedergren & Tehler, 2014).

Identified Maritime Administration challenges
Performance of organizations, such as ship operators as well as maritime administration agencies, should be assessed by their contribution to the risk governance system. Therefore, an investigation was performed to identify such contributions from the Swedish Maritime Administration and the Swedish Transport Agency since 2006.

In 2006 the Swedish Maritime Administration (2006) based on the yearly risk and vulnerability analysis stated that the sector had, compared to other types of risks, the “best ability … to handle the event terrorism”. However, this claim was done without any extensive explanation and since then no risk and vulnerability analysis has been performed in relation to maritime security. The latest Swedish maritime safety report Säkerhetsöversikt 2016 has no mentions about maritime security, ship protection measures, crime at sea, or the effects of criminal activities on shipping (Swedish Transport Agency, 2017). Also, the Swedish Transport Agency has no specific maritime security information for Swedish conditions or for the sea areas of specific interest such as the Baltic Sea. Therefore, there is very little evidence of that, and how, the Swedish government agencies implement and enforce maritime security (other than administrative tasks in relation to the ISPS code).

The lack of clear maritime administration activities contributing to the maritime security risk governance system coupled with exercises examining single events (rather than system events) lead to a system understanding. This makes it challenging to other system stake holders, such as the Police, the Coast Guard and the Navy, to understand and adapt their activities in an effective manner.

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