Why exactly is the maritime industry so important?
In a world where goods and products are available at the click of a button, it’s easy to forget about the global supply chains that make our lives possible.
As a result, the UK’s maritime industry often goes unnoticed—despite the fact that it’s responsible for transporting more than 95% of global trade.
In this article, we’re going to shine a spotlight on the maritime industry and explore why it’s so important. We’ll also be sharing some advice for prospective mariners who are interested in making a career in this vital sector.
Curious? Read on!
What Is the Maritime Industry?
The maritime industry is responsible for the transportation of goods, products, and people by sea. This includes everything from container ships, and oil tankers, to cruise ships and passenger ferries to smaller vessels like fishing boats.
It is a crucial part of the global economy—without it, international trade would come to a standstill.
In addition to transportation, the maritime industry also encompasses activities like shipbuilding, repair and maintenance, port operations, and marine engineering.
Why Is It So Important?
The maritime industry is vital for global trade and economic growth for a wide range of reasons that encompass almost every aspect of modern life. As a result, answering the question “why is the maritime industry so important?” isn’t easy.
To do it justice, we’ve broken down our answer into three key points:
- Essential for global trade
- A major source of employment
- It’s important for environmental protection
Read on to find out more about each of these points!
1. The Maritime Industry Is Essential for Global Trade
Global trade is the lifeblood of the maritime industry. Without it, the industry would simply not exist.
The shipping industry is responsible for transporting and delivering more than 95% of global trade by volume—roughly 11 billion tons annually. This is an almost unbelievable number, especially considering the fact that this feat is carried out by only 50,000 merchant vessels.
It’s hard to overstate how much we rely on the stability and efficiency of this complex network of merchant ships and ports.
For a clear example of this fact, look no further than the container ship Ever Given.
When the Ever Given ran aground in the Suez Canal in 2020, over $60 billion worth of global trade was held up until the ship was freed. Among the goods that were held up was wood pulp used to produce products like paper, tissues, and perhaps most notably, toilet paper.
Yes—the great toilet paper shortage of 2020 was not the result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but instead a direct result of an issue in the maritime supply chain.
2. The Maritime Industry Is a Major Source of Employment
The maritime industry is a major source of employment around the world—both directly and indirectly.
According to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), there are more than 1.8 million seafarers (both officers and ratings) employed globally.
This doesn’t include the estimated 20+ million workers who support or interface with the maritime industry in some capacity, such as shore-based staff, port workers, shipbuilders, and marine engineers.
In addition to being a massive employer, the maritime industry also pays mariners an average of 30% more than the national average salary in the UK. That means it plays an outsized role in supporting the economies of maritime nations.
3. The Maritime Industry Is Important for Environmental Protection
The maritime industry is also playing an increasingly important role in environmental protection.
According to FAOSTAT, the shipping industry is responsible for just 1.7% of global GHG emissions, despite transporting 90% of global trade by volume. This means shipping is the most efficient mode of transport when it comes to GHG emissions per ton-kilometer.
The industry is working hard to further reduce its environmental impact. In 2015, the IMO set a target of reducing GHG emissions from shipping by at least 50% by 2050, compared to 2008 levels.
It is on track to meeting this target, with emissions having fallen by 3.2% between 2008 and 2018.
How You Can Get Involved
Hopefully, this article has convinced you that the maritime industry is important and worth your support. But you might be wondering how you can get involved.
Here are a few ideas:
- Think about career paths. The maritime industry is full of interesting and rewarding career paths, including merchant navy officer, ship captain, and port manager. The first step you need to take is learning about the various roles in the industry and deciding which one is right for you.
- Start your training. Once you know what role you want to play in the industry, it’s time to start your training. At our sister company, the Maritime Skills Academy, you can find information about the various training and educational programs you’ll need to pursue your chosen career path
- Look out for opportunities. Opportunities in the industry are abundant if you keep your eyes (and mind) open. The industry is growing rapidly, and motivated mariners will have no trouble finding employment.
At Chiltern Maritime, we’re committed to helping the next generation of cadets learn the skills they need to excel in whatever roles they choose. If you would like to discuss the many opportunities available, please contact the team.