The maritime environment is a risky place. Last year, 112 people died in maritime accidents within the UK search and rescue region.
Sir Alan Massey, Chief Executive of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), has been discussing the role of the Agency in ensuring effective rules, regulations and behaviours are in place to keep lives, ships and the maritime environment as safe as possible.
In a speech to the RNLI’s Annual Lecture at the University of Southampton last night, Sir Alan said: “We know there has to be a balance between being governed by strict rules on the one hand and being steered by good practice, rational standards and common sense on the other. The trick is to get that balance right.”
The MCA is required to address many types of risk, including those associated with commercial shipping, the well-being of the marine environment, and leisure activities on the water or along the coast.
Sir Alan said: “The sporting, recreational and leisure sector is largely unregulated or – perhaps better – self-regulating. It seems there is very little appetite for insisting that every pleasure craft be registered or every skipper be trained and certified.
“Instead, the MCA – working alongside its key partners like the RNLI and the Royal Yachting Association – puts a lot of effort into education and encouraging formal training. We also operate a voluntary, free of charge registration service with the Coastguard’s CG66 system.”
Work is now underway to remove some existing maritime regulations, and improve others. The government wants to cut down on unnecessary and over-complex rules, to help boost economic growth and increase individual freedoms.
Sir Alan added: “Through effective regulation, and also by being increasingly pro-active in other ways, we’re always seeking to improve the way people think and behave when they’re out at sea.”