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Merseyside to Host Summit on Future of £46bn UK Maritime Sector

17th May 2021
Industry body Mersey Maritime is holding its third annual Maritime Exchange conference on Friday, June 25, 2021
Industry body Mersey Maritime is holding its third annual Maritime Exchange conference on Friday, June 25, 2021

National maritime industry leaders and senior Government officials are to meet in Merseyside for a high-profile summit to discuss the future of the sector in the UK.

Industry body Mersey Maritime is holding its third annual Maritime Exchange conference on Friday, June 25, 2021. Taking place in the magnificent surroundings of a Grade-II-listed Victorian building in Birkenhead docklands, the conference will be a hybrid virtual and in-person event. The Mersey Maritime Exchange will serve as a platform for the maritime sector to come together to review progress on implementing the UK’s flagship national maritime strategy, Maritime 2050.

In the UK, the maritime sector is worth more than £46bn annually and supports more than one million jobs. Liverpool City Region is regarded as one of the most successful maritime clusters in Europe. The local sector contributes more than £4bn in GVA and supports tens of thousands of jobs.

Around 95% of goods coming into the UK arrive by sea and the sector kept this vital supply line of food, medicines and clothing moving during COVID-19. British maritime companies facilitate more than £500bn of global trade each year. It is an industry that is critical to the health of the UK economy.

Mersey Maritime hosted the first Maritime Exchange at Liverpool Town Hall in 2019 and, due to COVID-19 restrictions, took the event online in 2020. Last year’s conference included speeches from Maritime Minister Robert Courts and Sarah Kenny CEO of BMT and Chair of Maritime UK.

The Maritime Exchange was originally conceived in response to the Government’s Maritime 2050 report which set out the future of the sector over the next three decades. At the heart of the report was a commitment to technological transformation, decarbonisation and a more inclusive, highly-trained workforce.

This year’s conference will focus on ‘Maritime 2050: The journey so far?’ and is being delivered with the support of the Department for Transport and Maritime UK. The conference will again explore the Maritime 2050 strategy and its key themes, coming two-and-a-half years into the short-term recommendations and coinciding with the launch of Maritime UK’s detailed: ‘Maritime 2050: Where are we now?’ report. It will also celebrate the Day of the Seafarer 2021.

It is being held in the Grade II-listed 19th century hydraulic tower building, a copy of the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, close to the Birkenhead waterfront. The building is set to be the centrepiece of the proposed £23m Maritime Knowledge Hub in Wirral Waters.

Chris Shirling-Rooke, Chief Executive of Mersey Maritime, said: “Despite the challenges of the last year, Mersey Maritime has been resolutely focused on supporting the industry in the Liverpool city region and beyond.

“Much of our work has been guided by the principles that sit within the Maritime 2050 report and we are proud to be able to deliver this event to showcase all that has been achieved so far across the sector, together with our UK wide ambitions for the future.

“Significantly, the event will take place at the site of the proposed new Maritime Knowledge Hub in the Birkenhead docks area which is a central part of major regeneration works for the region.

“This maritime centre of excellence is at the heart of our ambition for the future of the industry regionally and will be of national significance. It is fitting that we hold this important event in such a location and underlines the journey that the industry is on at this exciting time as we emerge from the pandemic crisis and respond to be the big challenges facing us.”

The conference will feature a range of key-note speeches and panel discussions, focused around the following themes:

  • People
  • Innovation
  • Environment
  • Competitiveness
  • Regional Growth

Maritime UK Chair, Sarah Kenny, added: “The UK is emerging from one of the greatest economic shocks in modern times, and as we look to rededicate ourselves to the long-term ambitions set out in the Maritime 2050 strategy, we have the opportunity to consider what the future of the maritime sector should look like.

“As we are approaching the half-way mark for the short-term recommendations in the strategy, we will be taking a moment to celebrate successes, but also to review progress, identify gaps in delivery, and think about what more needs to be done to ensure a sustainable maritime future for all.
“Maritime UK is pleased to be supporting Mersey Maritime and the Department for Transport in the organisation of this event, which will give us the opportunity to discuss key priorities from across a sector so critical to the UK economy.”

In addition to the Mersey Maritime Exchange conference, the Maritime Knowledge Hub site will also host a number of other activities across the day including a VVIP visit to launch the pre-development phase of the project with key partners Wirral Waters, Peel L&P, Wirral Council and Liverpool Combined Authority.

The days’ celebrations will conclude with a drinks reception to announce the finalists of the Mersey Maritime Industry Awards 2021 (MMIA21). The awards ceremony will take place in Liverpool on September 17, 2021 and will feature as the closing event of London International Shipping Week.

For more details on the Mersey Maritime Exchange – Maritime 2050: The journey so far is here

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