Nautilus International has called on the newly-elected UK government to commit to ensuring a strong and prosperous British maritime sector post-Brexit by supporting the core objectives set out in its manifesto.
'Safeguarding the future of British Maritime' outlines what the Conservative must do to boost British seafarer employment, help the industry thrive and improve maritime safety.
It calls for significant investment in maritime education and training; stricter conditions over the issue of UK Certificates of Equivalent Competency (CECs), tighter controls on work permits and visas; the promotion of collective bargaining and the application of the National Minimum Wage to all seafarers serving in UK waters.
'To retain a shipping industry that sustains the UK's global trading requirements and underpins the nation's continued global lead as a maritime services centre, more needs to be done by government,' Nautilus International general secretary Mark Dickinson said.
The manifesto calls for the government to ensure that the 'genuine link' requirement for ships on the UK Ship Register (UKSR) enforced, encourage British shipowners using foreign flags to return to the UKSR and examine the scope for 'cabotage' protection of domestic trades.
It further seeks to establish a national maritime strategy and improve the UK Tonnage Tax scheme.
Nautilus International sent copies of its manifesto to all UK political parties ahead of the December 12 election. It also approached all UK parties on Social Media. No responses were received.
Labour was the only political party with any reference to maritime in its political manifesto ahead of the election. It pledged to outlaw Nationality based pay discrimination on UK ships.
The UK's maritime interests have continued to suffer decline, despite the previous government's attempts to develop a strategic and long-term vision for the sector through the Maritime Growth Study and the Maritime 2050 initiative.
The UK Ship Register (UKSR) reached highs of 17.9 million gross tonnes in 2011 following the introduction of the Tonnage Tax in 2000. It dipped to 13.8 m gt in 2014 with a couple of larger companies moving their fleets away from the UK flag for commercial reasons. Another exodus away from the flag was felt in 2018 and 2019 due to Brexit concerns.