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Marine crime


The Australian Institute of Criminology has recently released a paper that explores the type of criminal activity that occurs in marine environments, with a focus on the Great Barrier Reef. The marine environment attracts wide ranging opportunities for illegal activity. These arise from: the availability of natural resources; the availability of illegal drugs for importation; the availability of people wishing to come to Australia and an increase in non-compliance with the introduction of new regulations. Factors that are likely to motivate people to commit crimes in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (GBRMP) include: large financial rewards; increased profit from failing to comply with environmental regulations; failure to accept the legitimacy of regulations; lack of knowledge of regulations; lack of understanding of the impact of illegal activities; and the inability to afford the costs of compliance. Situational crime prevention strategies are one option in reducing crime in the GBRMP. Situational crime prevention falls into three main areas: increasing the effort, increasing the risks and reducing the rewards. The chart below outlines ways in which situational crime prevention strategies can be applied to the marine environment.

Situational crime prevention in the marine environment



  • Smith R G & Anderson K 2004. Understanding non-compliance in the marine environment. Trends & issues in crime and criminal justice no. 275 Australian Institute of Criminology Canberra

Cite article

2004. Marine crime. Crime facts info no. 78. Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology. https://aic.gov.au/publications/cfi/cfi078