Nautilus is urging UK government ministers to come up with a detailed maritime policy document, setting out clear strategic objectives for the merchant fleet and seafarer employment and training.
The Union's call comes after business and enterprise minister Mark Prisk told a meeting in London that when he took up his post he had been shocked to find there was no industrial strategy for the maritime sector.
In a letter to Mr Prisk and shipping minister Mike Penning, Nautilus says it is supportive of the Marine Industries Leadership Council initiative to boost British maritime by developing greater dialogue between the sector and government departments and setting targets for growth.
But, general secretary Mark Dickinson warns, 'there continues to be a lack of coherent approach to the maritime sector from the various government departments that have interests in the area' - with many examples in recent years in which measures to support the shipping industry had been undermined by conflicting actions taken by different departments.
In particular, he adds, there has been no defined shipping policy since the previous government's Charting A New Course document, published in 1998, which contained 33 'action points' to boost employment and training and to increase the size of the UK merchant fleet.
Mr Dickinson urges the two ministers to develop consistent and over-arching policies for growth across all aspects of the shipping and marine sector. 'All the component parts of the UK maritime sector are closely inter-related, and I believe that overall success will only be possible with policies that cut across departmental boundaries to provide a "joined-up" approach - not least in the provision of appropriately skilled and experienced marine professionals,' he stresses.
Source: Nautilus International