‘Blue boats’ and ‘reef robbers’: A new maritime security threat for the Asia Pacific?

Vietnamese ‘blue boats’ - small wooden-hulled fishing boats - are now entering the territorial waters of Pacific Island countries and illegally catching high-value species found on remote coastal reefs. Crossing several international boundaries and traversing a distance of over 5000 km, these intrusions have alarmed Oceanic countries, including Australia. Lacking administrative capacity as well as jurisdictional authority to effectively control the vast stretches of island coastlines individually, governments and intergovernmental bodies in the region have called for strengthened coordination of surveillance efforts while also pressuring Vietnam diplomatically. This paper reviews these latest developments and is the first to provide a focused assessment of the issue.