Ladies and gentlemen, friends and colleagues.
I’m delighted to welcome to you to this reception….
To mark the publication of our 2017-18 annual report on maritime transport.
It is the first such report….
And is particularly important for me personally because it covers my first few months as Maritime Minister.
I was born and raised in Birmingham…..
About as far from the coast as you can get in the UK…..
So I had no experience of the industry before joining the Department for Transport.
But I hope that once you’ve read the report, you’ll understand why I am enjoying the role so much.
It’s a privilege to represent an industry that has such a rich history in this country….
But also an industry that is adapting and modernising….
To ensure that we retain our position among the front rank of global maritime nations.
The report is packed full of recent achievements.
From hosting a highly successful London International Shipping Week in 2017….
To taking a leading role in securing emissions reductions at IMO….
And from maintaining the highest standards of shipboard safety and security through the work of the MCA……
To securing the long term operation of the General Lighthouse Authorities through the fleet review I announced last week
And I haven’t even mentioned our wide range of measures to improve seafarer training, recruitment and welfare.
The report also makes clear the importance of Maritime Business Services to the UK.
We are world-leaders in finance, arbitration, law and brokerage.
Our services make a vital contribution to the strength of the UK maritime cluster and our global reach.
But other countries are envious of our success and want to take our business.
So tomorrow I am joining the Exchequer Secretary and leading figures from Maritime UK and Maritime London to discuss the economic importance of the maritime sector and what more we can do to support its further growth.
My officials too are stepping up engagement between government departments and the industry through the new Maritime Services Forum.
I want this to provide a focal point for identifying and overcoming challenges, and creating new opportunities for maritime services.
There are of course more examples in the report that illustrate the many diverse accomplishments of the industry over the past year.
But our real focus now should be on our longer term ambitions.
That’s why we’ve announced Maritime 2050….
A vision for the future built around six main themes:
- security and resilience….
- and people.
Much of the detail will flow from our consultation exercise….
To which I hope many of you will have contributed.
The first theme, trade, is closely linked to the UK’s departure from the EU.
While we will remain focused on maximising commercial opportunities worldwide…..
We are also seeking a future relationship with the EU which keeps trade with Member States as frictionless as possible.
The shipping sector, so used to operation globally, is already at the heart of the UK’s position as a global trading nation.
I am confident that this will continue until 2050 and long afterwards.
2050 may seem a long time away, but actions we take now will have consequences long into the future…..
For example on protecting the environment.
The IMO’s landmark decision in April to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% by 2050 was very much the result of a strong UK push.
It’s an important commitment on the road to fully decarbonising shipping over the coming decades.
The UK is already well positioned to be a leading developer of green technologies.
We will support this objective by bringing the maritime sector together under a new Government-led Clean Maritime Council….
And by producing a Clean Maritime Plan.
New technologies could also transform the industry in other ways.
Perhaps the most significant will be the growth of autonomous shipping.
We want to be a world leader in maritime autonomy.
So we intend to spearhead discussions at the IMO to develop an international regulatory framework for these vessels, to ensure that they operate safely and securely.
We have already hosted an innovative Maritime Autonomy Futures Lab.
In the Lab we worked closely with industry to develop bold and innovative policies which will be outlined in DfT’s Smart Shipping route map later this year.
But our whole trading network must be supported by the proper infrastructure.
That’s why we will be acting on the conclusions of the Ports Connectivity Study….
Which will set out the transport links we need to make the flow of maritime imports and exports as efficient as possible.
These links won’t just benefit ports.
They’ll support manufacturers and businesses across the UK.
The study provides the first cross-modal overview of port, rail and road activity by region….
And will demonstrate that ports are at the heart of future infrastructure investment decisions.
Another priority is keeping ships and ports – along with the people who use them – safe and secure.
We keep security under constant review.
For instance, we are considering new ideas to protect passenger services and improve resilience, and discussing them with international partners.
We are developing and testing rapid response plans following major incidents….
These could range from an attack on a port or vessel to severe disruption during industrial action.
As demand grows for goods to be shipped faster, ports and vessels are increasing their dependence on IT.
Failures here can lead to significant costs for the industry, as well as having safety and security implications.
So the DfT has set-up a dedicated Cyber Security Team….
With a remit to protect the industry against the threat of cyber attack, through the Network and Information Systems Directive.
We will shortly be reviewing the guidance we issued to ports in 2016.
We also work closely with the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) on cyber security for Critical National Infrastructure assets within the UK.
Safety is not a specific theme in Maritime 2050 – but that’s only because safety runs through everything we do.
Last week, we launched the inaugural Maritime Safety Week to enhance awareness of safety issues.
This recognised the excellent work already being done – while encouraging continuous improvement across the sector.
And finally, we come to people.
This may be the last on the list of themes, but it is of course the one that underpins all the others.
Many on-shore industries – brokering, maritime insurance – rely on staff with experience of the operational environment.
That is why I announced the launch of SMarT Plus in February.
This provides a package that will see SMarT funding doubled over a 7 year period, from £15m to £30m per year, enabling the annual cadet intake to rise to 1200.
In return, shipping companies will create additional training and employment opportunities.
We also need to attract the best recruits.
Currently only 3% of our seafarers are women.
This must change.
This is why I am supportive of the work of Maritime UK’s Women in Maritime Taskforce, which is developing a strategy to improve gender diversity in the industry.
I was delighted to be able to launch the first outcome of their work recently, the Women in Maritime Pledge.
The pledge commits signatories to building an employment culture that actively supports and celebrates gender diversity, at all levels of their organisation and industry.
It is the first step towards a Women in Maritime Charter that will ask organisations to set targets to improve their gender diversity and support them in doing so with toolkits outlining the practical steps they can take to achieve those targets.
I hope to see many more women taking advantage of the SMarT funding and working on our vessels and in senior positions ashore very soon.
So, to sum up.
Maritime 2050 sets out our vision for the future.
But we must be well on our way to achieving that vision long before 2050.
So we will increase and diversify our trading links.
Goods will arrive and depart on cleaner and more technologically advanced vessels.
Ports will be better connected, so those goods are moved efficiently across the UK.
We will have standards of safety and security which are among the best in the world.
And we will have a better trained and more diverse workforce.
We have a great maritime past, and a great maritime present.
But we want to be keep the flag flying high.
For a great maritime future.
So let’s work together to achieve it.