The first meeting of the UK’s new Maritime Council sat on 21 June, which included Transport Secretary Mark Harper and leading industry figures from both the private and public sectors. 

The council, tasked with delivering the Maritime 2050 strategy, was first launched in 2018 by then-minister Chris Grayling and aims to strengthen the UK’s leadership in shipping business, regulation and technology. 

The Maritime Council’s membership reflects the ambition to “focus government and industry’s shared priorities” on the sector’s future by “boosting UK economic growth while tackling carbon emissions”.

Chairing the initial conference, Harper said the UK’s history as a maritime leader has been key to the country’s success, but noted that the industry is facing challenges that could transform its future. 

Harper said: “As an island nation, maritime has always underpinned our national connectivity and prosperity, so it’s vital we secure the long-term future of this sector and deliver on the Maritime 2050’s recommendations to make the UK maritime sector the strongest and most competitive in the world. However, decarbonisation is both a challenge and an opportunity.

“Not only will this help deliver the Prime Minister’s immediate priority of growing the economy, it’ll also deliver on our environmental ambitions by decarbonising its operations – arguably maritime’s biggest transformation since sail gave way to steam.”

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Maritime minister Baroness Vere, who will chair future meetings of the council, reiterated to attendees the importance of collaboration across government and private sector stakeholders: “It’s not just for the government to set out a plan, it has to be something that all parties can make a reality.

“Collaboration with the industry will help deliver our shared Maritime 2050 vision, revolutionising the UK’s relationship with other countries, to grow and upskill the maritime workforce and advance our world-class safety standards.”

Moving forward, the council will have the power to convene working groups to ensure the UK is delivering on its 2050 plan. An interim report is expected from the body to review progress but no date has yet been made public for its publication.