The United Kingdom has unveiled a new maritime security strategy that is designed to respond to emerging risks that threaten the future of the industry. The new strategy redefines maritime security as upholding laws, regulations and norms to deliver a free, fair and open maritime domain, thus recognizing illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and environmental damage to the country’s seas as a maritime security concern.
The UK government reports the five-year new strategy will enhance maritime capabilities in technology, innovation, and cyber security and also reduce environmental damage, a development that is aimed at securing the country’s position as a world-leading maritime nation.
The strategy is however silent on cost implications, with the government stating that it intends to work with the shipping industry, academia, international partners, and allies in the delivery of the outward-focused strategy through increased information sharing partnerships to increase the visibility of threats to the global maritime domain.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said that 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’s world-leading seabed mapping community and tackling illegal fishing and polluting activities at sea.
As part of the initiative, he announced the establishment of the UK Centre for Seabed Mapping (UK CSM) which seeks to enable the UK’s seabed mapping sector to collaborate to collect more and better data to enhance the country’s maritime security knowledge. The country reckons that seabed mapping provides the foundation dataset that underpins almost every sector in the maritime domain, including maritime trade, environmental and resource management, shipping operations, and national security and infrastructure within the industry.
“Our new maritime security strategy paves the way for both government and industry to provide the support needed to tackle new and emerging threats and further cement the UK’s position as a world leader in maritime security,” said Shapps.
The UK maritime sector includes port facilities, the shipping fleet, maritime business services, engineering, and the leisure marine sector. A report produced by the Centre for Economics and Business Research commissioned by Maritime UK, a trade body for the maritime industry, shows the maritime industry is a major cog of the UK’s economy after contributing $140.7 billion in 2019, 35 percent higher than 2010. The sector supported one million jobs and generated $6.3 billion in tax revenues.