We have much to be proud of in the maritime sphere.
Whilst many other transport modes scaled back services, maritime stepped up.
Robert Courts MP, UK Government Shipping Minister
The last 12 months have seen us all face challenges which have impacted on every part of our lives. We’ve changed the way we’ve had to work, communicate and socialise. The speed with which we had to adapt to the pandemic, and the restrictions that were necessary, were unwelcome but implemented quickly and efficiently.
However, throughout the pandemic, the maritime
sector was the quiet saviour of us all. Maritime ensured that supplies kept moving around the world, nations were kept fed, materials and goods were delivered and huge quantities of PPE were distributed.
We have much to be proud of in the maritime sphere. Whilst many other transport modes scaled back services, maritime stepped up. It is only the dedication, skill and training of each and every seafarer around the world that enabled this and we have much to thank them for during exceptionally challenging times.
I am proud that it was the UK who convened a summit of 16 world governments (including the UK) to get seafarers recognised as key workers, and the UK who drove forward that agenda and worked around the clock to aid the repatriation of crews and passengers alike through the toughest months. More recently, again demonstrating the continuing priority given to the welfare of seafarers by the UK Government, the UK strongly supported the United Nations General Assembly’s resolution on international cooperation to address challenges faced by seafarers to support global supply chains. We also championed the International Labour Organization’s resolution on maritime labour issues in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The summit focusing on key worker recognition for seafarers was just one highlight of 2020. Despite the challenges that Government faced battling the pandemic, the importance of the Maritime Sector was never forgotten:
n We extended protection to guarantee National Minimum Wage for maritime workers, meaning seafarers will receive pay protection equal to every other sector.
n We pushed forward on our environmental commitments by announcing a £20 million fund for research and development for a cleaner maritime sector and lower emissions.
n We supported the continuing development of autonomous vessels and saw their use to map areas of the seabed which has never been achieved before.
n We continue to work closely with the ferry sector on the challenging operational issues they have faced and overcome.
What this shows me, and indeed the wider world, is that the UK’s maritime sector is strong, flexible and able to react immediately to any changes or pressures that it faces.
As we enter a new year, we still face uncertainty: when we can begin the recovery of our country, our economy and our lives, we look forward to the restart of our cruise sector, the new relationships with trading partners around the world following our exit from the European Union, and of course some of the biggest maritime events for some time.
2021 sees us welcome London International Shipping Week again, possibly the first opportunity for a global gathering of the shipping community and our opportunity to show once again that the UK is a leader in all that we do and how much we contribute to the maritime world. We have world renowned professional services in the UK and a growing shipbuilding industry with state of the art Naval and Polar research vessels, showing that the UK’s reputation for building magnificent ships is well deserved. We have so much to showcase and be proud of.
We also look forward to hosting the Global Maritime Forum and the UK will be hosting COP26, two events where the eyes of the world will rest firmly on the UK. They will offer further opportunities to demonstrate how we are leading the way in developing new and innovative ways of tackling the challenges we face, whether they be economic, social, environmental or viral.
As we put 2020 behind us and 2021 starts to unfurl with vaccines being rolled out across the nation, it affords us the opportunity to recover and rebuild, stronger, greener and better.
In closing I want to first thank the UK Chamber of Shipping for their continued engagement and support and secondly our domestic and global maritime community. It is during times such as those we have faced over the last year that we have shown that we all work better when we work together.
We will continue this cooperation and collaborative working so that together, we can all work smarter and deliver a cleaner, greener better world for today and for future generations.
Photo: Jairus Alcazarn AB – Beautiful Sunset
Photo: Andrew Sassoil-Walker
Photo: Alexander Shmagin 2nd Officer – Tugboat in Norway