Traditionally, maritime security has been understood in terms of direct or physical security. Typically, this concerns military or policing issues, such as inter-State conflicts, piracy or trafficking. This narrow understanding is increasingly challenged, first because there is a growing recognition that there is a lack of consensus over its meaning. And, second, there is recognition in wider security studies discourse that security threats are complex, multifaceted and interconnected. There is some appreciation of the conceptual issues and complexity of security in maritime security literature, but this is still in its infancy. Most literature on maritime security focuses on military or policing activities, whereas fisheries literature is predominantly concerned with the conservation and management of resources, and with the social and economic impacts of overfishing. Occasionally, the literature meets, for example with respect to the root causes of piracy, where aggressive or uncontrolled foreign fishing has been presented as a contributory factor in the growth of piracy in Somali waters, or in the Gulf of Guinea.
This chapter aims to deepen the dialogue about how fisheries fit within the broader framework of maritime security. We seek to move the debate forward by extending discussions about fisheries regulation into maritime security, showing how poor or ineffective regulation and management of fisheries activities can have a wider destabilizing effect on maritime security. In particular, we argue that cumulative, multiple stresses at lower/different levels can render maritime security generally more vulnerable. This is a novel perspective because it combines two discreet areas of concern: maritime security discourse and fisheries law.