U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Understanding Non-compliance in the Marine Environment

NCJ Number
Russell G. Smith; Katherine Anderson
Date Published
May 2004
6 pages
This article examines criminal activity occurring in marine environments, with a focus on the Great Barrier Reef, and explores appropriate regulatory responses.
Marine conservation standards have been codified by the United Nations in the Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982). Failure to abide by these standards threatens marine biodiversity, thus exploring how to better ensure compliance with marine conservation laws is an important task. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (GBRMP), the largest living organism in the world, is protected by a range of State, Commonwealth, and international laws, conventions, and agreements. These are upheld by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA). The GBRMPA is divided into four groups, each of which is charged with reducing related criminal activities: (1) Conservation, Biodiversity, and World Heritage; (2) Water Quality and Coastal Development; (3) Fisheries; and (4) Tourism and Recreation. The types of criminal activities that fall under each category are enumerated and include illegal hunting or removal of threatened species under the Conservation, Biodiversity, and World Heritage group and marine pollution under the Fisheries group. Other types of criminal activities also occur in the GBRMP, crimes such as people smuggling, drug trafficking, interpersonal crimes of violence, and crimes against park agencies. The motivations for criminal activities in marine environments are considered and include financial rewards, increased business profits, lack of knowledge of regulations, and lack of understanding of the consequences of such activities. The highly regulated nature of marine environments offers many opportunities to break the law, especially when the area is too large for adequate regulation by guardian agencies such as the GBRMPA. A range of regulatory responses to criminal activities in marine environments are considered and include deterrence-based regulation, compliance-based regulation, and situational crime prevention. Recommendations for the improvement of compliance with the law in marine environments are offered, including public and business education of marine laws and coordination of regulatory efforts. References