UK unveils new maritime security strategy for emerging risks

The UK has this week rolled out a new maritime strategy that it claims will enable the country to target key emerging risks.

The UK government claims the five-year new strategy will enhance maritime capabilities in technology, innovation, and cyber security and also reduce environmental damage.

UK 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.

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 UK claims 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 recent 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.

To respond to these challenges and position the industry for the future, the new maritime strategy will focus on five strategic objectives anchored on homeland protection in terms of delivering the world’s most effective maritime security framework for UK borders, ports, and infrastructure and responding to threats by taking a whole system approach to bring world-leading capabilities and expertise to respond to new, emerging threats.

“UK ports work closely with government and law enforcement to facilitate nearly half a billion tonnes of trade and tens of millions of passengers every year, whilst at the same time bearing down on threats to our collective safety and security. We look forward to strengthening that relationship as we help to deliver on these strategic objectives,” noted Mark Simmonds, British Ports Association, director of Policy and External Affairs.