The Outlaw Ocean: Journeys Across the Last Untamed Frontier

By: Ian Urbina

There are few remaining frontiers on our planet. But perhaps the wildest, and least understood, are the world’s oceans: too big to police, and under no clear international authority, these immense regions of treacherous water play host to rampant criminality and exploitation. Traffickers and smugglers, pirates and mercenaries, wreck thieves and repo men, vigilante conservationists and elusive poachers, seabound abortion providers, clandestine oil-dumpers, shackled slaves and cast-adrift stowaways—drawing on five years of perilous and intrepid reporting, often hundreds of miles from shore, Ian Urbina introduces us to the inhabitants of this hidden world. Through their stories of astonishing courage and brutality, survival and tragedy, he uncovers a globe-spanning network of crime and exploitation that emanates from the fishing, oil and shipping industries, and on which the world’s economies rely.

“Appendix: Reining in the Outlaw Ocean.” Notes. Further reading. Black-and-white photographs.

ISBN: 9780451492944

JLG Release: Dec 2019

Sensitive Areas: Abortion, Criminal culture, Cruelty to animals, Racism, Rape, Strong language, Violence
Topics: Travel , Fisheries’ corrupt practices , Law of the sea , Oceania , Ocean , Adventure , Asia , True crime , Maritime life , Shipping , Illegal fishing , Human trafficking , Smuggling , Conservationists

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Awards & Honors

2020 Carnegie Medal Longlist
NPR’s Book Concierge - 2019

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Book Details



First Release

December 2019



Dewey Classification


Trim Size

9 1/4" x 6 1/4"

Page Count


Accelerated Reader

Level 0; Points: 0;

Scholastic Reading Counts

Level 0; Points: 0;




Print Book


Hardcover edition


Knopf (Adult)

Potentially Sensitive Areas

Abortion, Criminal culture, Cruelty to animals, Racism, Rape, Strong language, Violence


Travel, Fisheries’ corrupt practices, Law of the sea, Oceania, Ocean, Adventure, Asia, True crime, Maritime life, Shipping, Illegal fishing, Human trafficking, Smuggling, Conservationists,

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