The UK has unveiled a new maritime security strategy designed to respond to emerging risks that threaten the future of the industry. The new strategy redefines maritime security as compliance with laws, regulations and standards to provide a free, fair and open maritime domain, thereby recognizing illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and environmental damage to the nation’s seas as a maritime safety issue.
The UK government reports that the new five-year strategy will boost maritime capabilities in technology, innovation and cybersecurity and also reduce environmental damage, a development which aims to secure the country’s position as a leading maritime nation.
The strategy is however silent on the financial implications, with the government saying it intends to work with the shipping industry, academia, international partners and allies in implementing the strategy focused on externally through increased information-sharing partnerships to increase threat visibility. to the global maritime domain.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the strategy sets out the guiding principles for the government’s approach to managing maritime threats and risks, both at home and around the world, including leveraging the UK community of seabed mapping, world leader, and by fighting against illegal fishing and polluting activities at sea.
As part of this initiative, he announced the creation of the UK Center for Seabed Mapping (UK CSM) which aims to enable the UK seabed mapping industry to work together to collect more and better data to improve the country’s knowledge of maritime security. The country believes that seabed mapping provides the basic data set that underpins almost all sectors of the maritime domain, including maritime commerce, environmental and resource management, maritime operations, national security and infrastructure within the industry.
“Our new maritime security strategy paves the way for government and industry to provide the support needed to tackle new and emerging threats and further solidify the UK’s position as a global leader in maritime security,” Shapps said.
The UK maritime sector includes port facilities, maritime fleet, maritime business services, engineering and the recreational marine sector. A report produced by the Center for Economics and Business Research commissioned by Maritime UK, a trade body for the maritime industry, shows the maritime industry is a major cog in the UK economy after contributing $140.7 billion in 2019, or 35% more than in 2010. Supported one million jobs and generated $6.3 billion in tax revenue.
Despite its importance to the country’s economy, the sector is grappling with emerging challenges including capacity constraints, rising costs, pressure to decarbonize, threats of cyberattacks and blue crimes including hacking, smuggling and IUU fishing.
To respond to these challenges and position the industry for the future, the new maritime strategy will focus on five strategic objectives rooted in protecting the homeland in terms of providing the world’s most effective maritime security framework for borders, UK ports and infrastructure and threat response. adopting a holistic systems approach to bring cutting-edge capabilities and expertise to respond to new emerging threats.
Other goals are to ensure prosperity by ensuring the safety of international maritime transport, the unimpeded transmission of goods, information and energy to support global development and economic prosperity, defend global maritime security underpinned by freedom of navigation and international order, and supporting a safe and resilient ocean by addressing security threats and regulatory violations that impact a clean, healthy, secure, productive and biologically diverse maritime environment.
“UK ports work closely with government and law enforcement to facilitate almost half a billion tonnes of trade and tens of millions of passengers every year, while tackling threats to our security and collective security. We look forward to strengthening this relationship as we help achieve these strategic objectives,” said Mark Simmonds, director of policy and external affairs at the British Ports Association.
He added that the new UK MSC is a major step forward for the maritime sector as it will contribute to a better understanding of the UK seabed and form the basis for many benefits including more informed management of the marine environment.