From the importance of the maritime sector in the UK to revised European regulations on marine equipment, we’ve been following the news that reflects the big issues facing the shipping industry.  Here are some of the stories that caught our eye this week.

Maritime industry supports over 500,000 UK jobs – A new study conducted by Maritime UK has given a detailed insight into the role that the maritime sector plays in the UK economy.  According to the results of the study, 537,500 jobs in the UK are supported by the shipping, ports and maritime business sectors, including 117,000 people employed in the UK ports industry, and 7,300 jobs have been created by the UK shipping industry in the past two years.  The study also estimates that the maritime industry contributes nearly £32 billion to UK GDP.  The full report, entitled Maritime UK 2012 Final Report, can be downloaded from Maritime UK’s website.

European Commission supports new Marine Equipment Directive – the European Commission has adopted a proposal for a new directive governing marine equipment.   The aim of the proposal is to simplify the regulatory regime governing marine equipment, as well as introducing obligations for manufacturers, importers, distributors and certifiers within the marine equipment sector.  The wheel mark, which demonstrates that the equipment in question complies with the relevant IMO /Marine Equipment Directive requirements – has been retained.  The possibility of supplementing or replacing the wheel mark with electronic tags, in order to facilitate vessel inspections and tackle counterfeiting, has also been introduced.

The Commission noted that marine equipment represents 40-80 per cent of the value of a vessel, covering everything from navigation equipment and propulsion systems to cargo equipment and life-saving systems.  Siim Kallas, Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of transport, remarked: “This new legislation will mean improved safety of EU vessels and their crews, the prevention of maritime accidents with a positive impact on the marine environment, and a boost for the marine equipment industry with the creation of jobs and growth.”

ICS issues new position paper on arctic shipping – The International Chamber of Shipping, which represents over 80 per cent of the global fleet, has published a new position paper on arctic shipping, including a set of key principles concerning future governance of Arctic waters as the Arctic becomes more accessible for international shipping.  In its position paper, the ICS stresses the importance of Arctic nations respecting the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and relevant IMO Conventions and Codes such as SOLAS and MARPOL.  It also argues that individual coastal states should not impose discriminatory treatment that might prejudice the rights of ships registered with non-Arctic nations under international maritime law, such as unilateral ship construction, design and equipment standards.  Where concerns arise, the ICS believes that the IMO is the proper forum for addressing those concerns, particularly as the IMO is developing a Polar Code, expected to be finalised next year.

If you have read anything interesting this week that you’d like to share, please let us know.

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