The Outlaw Ocean: Crime and Survival in the Last Untamed Frontier by Ian Urbina - review by Michael Griffin

Michael Griffin

Sinning on the Seven Seas

The Outlaw Ocean: Crime and Survival in the Last Untamed Frontier


The Bodley Head 560pp £18.99 order from our bookshop

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, along comes this enquiry into criminality at sea, a study wide enough in scope to cover stowaways, offshore abortionists and pirate radio stations alongside the more familiar subjects of illegal fishing and the dumping of dangerous waste in the world’s oceans.

The Outlaw Ocean is not a bloodless synthesis of news reports. Ian Urbina has immersed himself in the subject. Whether or not you enjoy it depends on your ability to handle simultaneously what the publisher describes as an ‘adrenalin-fuelled tour of a vast, lawless and rampantly criminal world’ and a serious examination of the rape of the oceans.

The book is based on a series of articles Urbina wrote for the New York Times over several years that took him to all five oceans. It involved 251,000 miles of travel and many days at sea on fishing boats, cargo vessels, cruise liners, floating armouries and conservationists’

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