The Secretary of State for Transport has today unveiled the National Strategy for Maritime Security.
The five-year strategy sets out the guiding principles for the UK government’s approach to managing threats and risks 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.
The new strategy redefines maritime security as upholding laws, regulations and norms to deliver a free, fair and open maritime domain. With this new approach, the government rightly recognises any illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and environmental damage to our seas as a maritime security concern.
In addition, to enhance the UK’s maritime security knowledge, the government has established the UK Centre for Seabed Mapping (UK CSM), administered by the UK Hydrographic Office, which seeks to enable the UK’s world-leading seabed mapping sector to collaborate to collect more and better data. 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.
Working with industry and academia, the Government has pledged to focus on five strategic objectives:
- Protecting our homeland: delivering the world’s most effective maritime security framework for our borders, ports and infrastructure.
- Responding to threats: taking a whole system approach to bring world-leading capabilities and expertise to bear to respond to new, emerging threats.
- Ensuring prosperity: ensuring the security of international shipping, the unimpeded transmission of goods, information and energy to support continued global development and our economic prosperity.
- Championing values: championing global maritime security underpinned by freedom of navigation and the international order.
- Supporting a secure, resilient ocean: tackling security threats and breaches of regulations that impact on a clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically-diverse maritime environment.
The Merchant Navy Welfare Board (MNWB), which is the umbrella charity for the UK Merchant Navy and acts as the National Seafarers’ Welfare Board, has responded to the strategy.
MNWB Deputy Chief Executive Sharon Coveney said:
“This strategy’s pledge to tackle the ever-increasing physical and cyber threats that the sector faces couldn’t arrive at a more crucial time.
“Being responsible for 95% of goods imported to the UK, seafarers can be faced with regular challenges while at sea including threats posed on ship security. With the help of government, understanding the risks and how to deal with piracy and armed robbery is of upmost important to merchant seafarers. Their welfare should never be compromised, and this strategy is right to recognise this. We look forward to seeing government’s objectives take shape.”
Read the strategy here