Statistics show an increase in the UK registered trading fleet for the first time in four years, rising by 8%. However, the figures also show a fall of 18% in UK owned tonnage.
UK Chamber CEO, Guy Platten has welcomed these signs of nascent recovery in the UK Ship Register, but has expressed concern over the stark decline in the UK owned fleet.
The figures show:
The total tonnage of trading vessels on the UK Ship Register has risen from 12.6 to 13.7 million deadweight tonnes (dwt) from 2014 to 2015
However, between 2010 -2015 the UK Flag declined at an average rate of 3% per annum, whilst over the same period the total world fleet grew by 5% per annum
UK direct owned tonnage - in that the registered owner of the vessel is a company registered in the UK – declined by 18% year on year, from 16.5m to 13.5m dwt
Between 2010 and 2015 UK owned tonnage has declined by 36%
The UK managed fleet fell by 1% to 53.4m dwt and parent owned fleet rose by 3% to 31.0m dwt.
The annual Shipping Fleet Statistics are produced by the Department for Transport and reflect tonnages as at the end of December 2015.
Commenting on the UK Ship Register figures, UK Chamber CEO, Guy Platten remarked: “The rise of 8% of UK Flagged tonnage, for the first time in four years, is a positive sign of the nascent recovery in confidence in the UK Ship Register, and follows the government’s commitment to undertake significant reform of the Register and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA)."
“That the UK share of the global fleet has fallen significantly at a time when global tonnage has increased by 5% clearly demonstrates the necessity of these changes and highlights the urgent need for these reforms to be delivered. It is also clear that if the UK is to reach the government’s own target of 2% of world tonnage and reverse the recent decline of the UK Flag, that there remains a long way to go."
“Reform of the MCA and the Register must be pursued quickly and ambitiously in order to ensure that the UK Flag is a competitive and commercially attractive register for the global industry, or we risk losing further ground to our global maritime competitors. The UK Chamber, and the industry as a whole, remains committed to the vision of a vibrant, competitive and attractive UK Flag, which is the destination of choice for global shipping businesses, but decisive action will be required by government if this is to be achievable."
On the decline in UK ownership, Platten added: “There is no doubt that shipping is a global sector, but if the UK is to truly lead the world and deliver sustainable economic growth we must back British businesses to succeed. If we are to compete and grow as a maritime nation we must build a business environment where shipowning is attractive to entrepreneurs and investors, and ensure that these businesses are given the necessary support to enable them to grow into the major shipowners of the future."
“That the UK is open to international investment is one of the great things about our economy, but the government must recognise the serious long-term threat the decline in UK ownership represents, and work with the industry to ensure that we do not loose further ground to our global competitors.”