New maritime security strategy says it will target physical and cyber threats

A new five-year maritime security strategy released today (15 August 2022) will set out the guiding principles for the UK Government’s approach to managing threats and risks at home and around the world, including leveraging the UK’s seabed mapping community and tackling illegal fishing and polluting activities at sea.

The strategy redefines maritime security as upholding laws, regulations, and norms to deliver a free, fair, and open maritime domain. With this new approach, the government says it will recognise any Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing and environmental damage to the seas as a maritime security concern.

In addition, the government has established the UK Centre for Seabed Mapping (UK CSM), that seeks to enable the UK’s seabed mapping sector to collaborate to collect more and better data.

“Mankind has better maps of the surface of the moon and Mars than of our own ocean,” says Grant Shapps, secretary of state for transport. “To ensure the UK’s maritime security is based on informed and evidence-based decisions, we must build our knowledge of this dynamic ocean frontier.

“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.”

Working with industry and academia, secretaries of state from DEFRA, DfT, FCDO, Home Office and MoD will focus on five strategic objectives:

  • Protecting the UK’s homeland: delivering an effective maritime security framework for borders, ports and infrastructure
  • Responding to threats: taking a whole system approach to bring capabilities and expertise to bear to respond to new emerging threats
  • Ensuring prosperity: ensuring the security of international shipping, the unimpeded transmission of goods, information and energy to support continued global development and economic prosperity
  • Championing values: championing global maritime security underpinned by freedom of navigation and the International Order
  • Supporting a secure, resilient ocean: tackling security threats and breaches of regulations which impact on clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse maritime environment.

“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,” says Mark Simmonds, director of policy & external affairs for the British Ports Association. “We look forward to strengthening that relationship as we help to deliver on these strategic objectives.

“The new centre for seabed mapping is a huge step forward for the maritime sector. It will help everyone better understand the UK seabed and be the foundation for numerous benefits including more informed management of the marine environment.”

Image – multibeam survey of the seabed off Plymouth – courtesy of UK Hydrographic Office.