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I am writing with regard to the direction Nautilus International is taking the marine industry. I applaud the efforts to work with our Dutch and Swiss counterparts, and also the expansion into superyachts, but I feel that we are collectively letting the industry down by not using the tools at our disposal.

The UK is an island, dependent on the maritime world for 95% of trade. We have seen the knock-on effects of one blockage to the Suez Canal, and also a global pandemic on the supply chain, and our enormous vulnerabilities when that chain breaks.

Why then is Nautilus not using our membership fees to advertise the need for seafarers and those shoreside supporting ships on a national level, and bring this more firmly into the nation’s conscience? I come from a seafaring town with a marine college, and still I’m met with looks of confusion when I mention I’m in the Merchant Navy. The British people do not know what it is and what it does!

Yet we see posts on social media celebrating 'British Success Stories' where crewing agencies are awarded high honours for their work in only offering jobs to foreign nationals, happily advertising jobs which pay a pittance and don’t support the British seafarer. We see posts about lovely training sites and the work there done. It is self-congratulating as nobody outside of the industry sees it. The last time there was any sort of positive advertising campaign for the Merchant Navy was World War 2!

A country fundamentally needs energy and food to live, and that is brought by ships. We must work harder to showcase that our industry is important but also struggling with the influx of cheap labour from elsewhere, and the dependence on our needs being met by non-British companies, ships and crews who ultimately are interested in the bottom line, not the British public.

Name and membership number withheld

The editor responds: Thank you for writing to the Nautilus Telegraph with these important points. The Union strongly agrees that we have a problem with 'sea blindness' among the general public in the UK and elsewhere, and we have recently commissioned a study on this which you can read here on our website. This study will form the basis of a press campaign to help raise awareness of the importance of the maritime industry to the economy.

Nautilus partners in schemes which arrange for seafarers to go into schools and youth groups to tell children about maritime careers and inspire them with their own experiences. In the UK, that includes the Merchant Navy Training Board's Careers at Sea Ambassadors and Maritime UK's Inspiring the Future Maritime, and in the Netherlands, the scheme is Zeebenen in de Klas.

We also run the Nautilus Champions programme to help inform the public and the media about seafaring careers. We hope you and other Nautilus members will consider volunteering.

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