Mersey Maritime - A driving force for the maritime industry on merseysideMersey Maritime - A driving force for the maritime industry on merseyside

Category : Mersey Maritime News

By Mersey Maritime

A Call to Action – Comprehensive Spending Review

Mersey Maritime is playing an important part in supporting a strong maritime themed bid as part of the Department for Transport’s submission to the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review process this autumn. (A CSR is a way for Government to determine how much money is needed by certain industries in the country – the maritime ‘ask’ is largely focussed on decarbonising the industry, levelling up, skills and innovation).

To that end we have already held a number of briefing meetings with local councillors, MPs and business leaders on both the original ‘Maritime Sector Recovery Plan’ (launched in June 2020) and now the series of ‘asks’ we are making in this important funding round.

To have impact, it will be important that Government ministers and MPs hear from a range of regional voices – the very people on the frontline of business activity and engaged with the delivery of the important themes of ‘clean maritime’, job creation, skills, growth and general support for the sector as being critical to delivering a strong post-COVID19 recovery.

Call to action…

I would urge you all to get involved with this work if you can. Maritime UK have produced a detailed toolkit to help assist with this process (download below). The toolkit contains useful information and background but also several practical items which we would encourage you to make use of either now or in the coming weeks

If you would like to discuss this further with the Mersey Maritime team please do get in touch

Thank you for your support.

Download the Maritime UK CSR Toolkit here.

By Mersey Maritime

UK could gain access to almost 500m Pacific Rim consumers

Tony McDonough writes:

British business could get tariff-free access to almost 500m consumers if it is successful in joining the Trans-Pacific free trade area post-Brexit.

That was the message delivered to Liverpool city region businesses in the third webinar in the Global Trade Outlook Series, organised by industry bodies Mersey Maritime, Maritime UK and Western Union Business Solutions.

Speakers at the event addressing members of Merseyside’s £4bn maritime sector, included George Brandis, Australian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Kyle Naish – Head of the Political and Trade Policy Branch at the Australian High Commission and Western Union’s head of customer and marketing, Nicole Zimmermann.

It focused on the prospects of an initial free trade agreement (FTA) between the UK and Australia which it was hoped would then lead to Britain joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

It was formed in 2018 and currently comprises 11 countries – Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Together they have a combined GDP of £7.5 trillion or 13% of the global total.

It is the third-biggest free trade area in the world behind the North American Free Trade Agreement and the European Union. UK Trade Secretary Liz Truss has met with the chief negotiators from all 11 member countries this week.

Stepping stone

And George Brandis told Mersey Maritime members: “The UK is embracing global Britain in a big way and we in Australia are delighted to see it. For the first time since the 1970s Britain will be pursuing an independent trade policy. Australia wants to be part of that and we will back Britain all the way.

“An Australia-UK FTA is an important stepping stone to accession by the UK into the CPTPP. On June 17, Liz Truss and her Australian counterpart, Senator Simon Birmingham, officially launched negotiations to a comprehensive and ambitious FTA, identified by Prime Minister Johnson as one of his four top trade priorities.

“Talks are progressing well and there is a grant deal of political will to have the talks wrapped up in a matter of months not years. This will be good news for Britain and Australia. Already Britain is Australia’s fifth-largest trading partner. It is a win-win outcome for trade, consumers and business people.”

Mr Brandis added that the CPTPP was “one of the most comprehensive FTAs ever concluded” and has eliminated 98% of the tariffs between countries in the Pacific Rim and embraces close to 500m consumers.

“We expect to see annual benefits of £8.5bn to the Australian national economy by 2030,” he said. “As a foundation member Australian exporters benefited from immediate tariff cuts.

“Australia has decided it will support Britain’s aspiration to accede to the CPTPP. The addition of the UK would extend its reach of the global economy from 13% to 18%. The Pacific Rim is the most dynamic area for economic growth around the globe.

Strengthening relationships

Kyle Naish and his team provides support to Australia’s trade negotiators in their discussions with their UK counterparts. He said there was a high level of confidence the two countries would sign a bi-lateral FTA and there was a real will on both sides to get it done.

Australia has an FTA with its closest neighbour New Zealand, an agreement that is recognised as an exemplar for free trade agreements across the world. However, Mr Naish stressed it comprised a number of agreements signed over decades and couldn’t simply be lifted as a template for an agreement with the UK.

He explained: “It is quite tricky to start an FTA with the UK from scratch but we can replicate some of the principles from our agreement with New Zealand. An elimination of all tariffs and quotas is one thing we would look to achieve. Each FTA is unique and we don’t follow a template.”

Both the economies of the UK and Australia are heavily service-based – 80% for the UK and 70% for Australia – and Mr Naish said that was an area that would have a lot of focus in the agreement.

“Our two countries are already well linked so it is not just a case of establishing new trading relationships but also growing the ones we already have,” he added.

Other priorities, he said, would be to have common standards on professional qualifications and on striking an agreement on agriculture, which was always a priority for Australia.

Coverage of a possible UK-US trade deal had focused on hygiene and animal welfare standards and Mr Naish was keen to reassure on this point. He said: “We always look to maintain high quality and sustainable standards in our food exports. To give one example, we have been supplying hormone-free beef to the UK for decades.

“Australia has been assessed independently and we have been found to have the highest standards of animal welfare.”

Mr Naish also pointed out that one in five bottles of wine consumed in the UK already come from Australia. In conclusion, he said: “We are looking to grease the wheels of commerce and get trade flowing between Australia and the UK.

“We want to make sure we maximise the trade opportunities between our two countries. Businesses want to be agile and trade with as little friction as possible.”

By Mersey Maritime

Top economist claims UK-EU trade deal will happen

Tony McDonough writes:

A leading UK economist has told an audience of Liverpool city region businesses that it is highly likely the UK and the EU will sign a free trade agreement (FTA) by the end of 2020.

Despite a current political row over changes to the Withdrawal Agreement in relation to Northern Ireland, Martin Beck of Oxford Economics said he believed “economic would trump politics” and that a basic FTA would be in place by January 1, 2021.

Mr Beck was speaking at the third webinar in the Global Trade Outlook Series, organised by industry bodies Mersey Maritime, Maritime UK and Western Union Business Solutions.

Mr Beck said: “There has been a lot of political heat this week about the Withdrawal Agreement but we still think the UK and the EU will have some kind of basic FTA in place by the end of this year.”

He also delivered an upbeat message about the prospects for the UK economy as it emerged from the damaging COVID-19 lockdown. As a result of the pandemic, he added, the UK economy had plummeted by 20% in the second quarter of this year.

However, he then went on to say: “The recovery has already started and we believe it may be a strong one… activity is picking up although we think the overall fall in activity by the end of 2020 will total around 10% – which is a huge fall.

“We expect the economy to rebound by around 9% in 2021 but we don’t expect it to return to pre-pandemic levels until the start of 2022 and that would represent two years of lost growth.

“There are reasons for optimism. This hasn’t been a normal recession. It has been a very short, sharp shock to the economy but there has been no damage to our physical capital. That remains intact and ready to use.”

Mr Beck talked about two possible scenarios based on the psychology of the UK population. People may fear unemployment rising and save money rather than spend it, thereby hurting the economy further. He described this as the “paradox of thrift”.

The second, more positive scenario, is where people start spending what they have saved in the past few months, creating a “virtuous circle” of higher spending leading to lower unemployment. Mr Beck added: “The Government must do everything it can to boost confidence.”

By Mersey Maritime

Chris Shirling-Rooke: Brexit – maritime businesses must have certainty one way or another

In many respects the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted the attention of the country away from the other major event that has been the dominant feature of the last few years: Brexit. But the subject is now firmly on the agenda once again, not least as it came front and centre of the national consciousness with the announcement that the government would introduce a UK Internal Market Bill later this week. This has cast a searchlight on the state of the negotiations around a comprehensive free trade deal between the UK and the European Union which are now in their most critical phase. The Prime Minister has said that a deal must be reached by the middle of next month which means the stakes are very high indeed. He has also indicated that if no deal is possible, the United Kingdom is relatively relaxed about that scenario and is prepared to operate its trade policy with our European neighbours on the basis of World Trade Organisation terms. It looks like the negotiating lines are clear for all to see, even if there is a lot of politics and rhetoric also going on.

One of Mersey Maritime’s primary roles is to act as a collective voice for our members both regionally and on the national stage and to ensure what they tell us is reflected in the case we make to key stakeholders on their behalf, including government. Businesses are telling us they need certainty now and in the crucial next few weeks, one way or another on these issues. Just like they did around the debate last Autumn on the Withdrawal Agreement, the people who ensure the jobs and economic activity which is vital for the economy to prosper, now require the same degree of certainty on this next phase. They can plan for every scenario that comes about but only with proper and accurate knowledge of what that actually means in reality.

It is inevitable that negotiations around the post Brexit trade deal would enter a phase of ‘hard ball’ as both sides hone in on the key points of dispute and challenge. But it is unrealistic to expect just one side to relent on its key points of principle. One of the primary drivers of the case to leave the European Union focused around the ability of the United Kingdom to once again act as a sovereign country in relation to its borders, its laws and its money. The red lines on this are clear for the government but they also need to be balanced with the not unreasonable desire of the EU to protect the integrity of the Single Market.

The maritime industry, known to be responsible for facilitation of 95% of all international trade in the UK, has played a crucial part in ensuring our country has been fed, fuelled and supplied during the COVID-19 crisis. We know our ports have risen to the challenge of making sure this has been possible and will continue to deliver in this way. We are rightly proud of how all our key partners in the supply chain, and in whatever capacity, have delivered all that we’ve needed during the crisis and demonstrated the resilience of the industry at every moment when it has been asked to do so. But being an island nation, we also know that there are opportunities way beyond our immediate geographical neighbours, important though they will continue to be. Liverpool knows this only too well. We are the natural gateway across the Atlantic and have the potential to facilitate an enhanced trade relationship between the UK and US in a significant way. But we also have strong links with other parts of the world, particularly our Commonwealth allies, many of whom are already seriously engaged in work to deliver new trade deals. The prospect of rekindling these old alliances, with Australia, Canada and New Zealand in particular, is both exciting and represents significant opportunities for business. But they are medium term in aspirations and require the government to get right the immediate challenges it faces and deliver a positive and clear outcome in our negotiations with our European partners, one way or another.

What can’t be allowed to happen is for the government to simply say they expect something to happen and have confidence that it will, without being totally assured about the practical reality on the ground. Take the issue of customs clearance after the transition period has come to an end on 31 December 2020. We know from our close dealings with the Road Haulage Association – experts on this subject – that there is a real possibility of disruption to supply chains as a result of what appears to be inadequate border preparations for this key moment in the process of extracting ourselves from the European Union. Are the IT systems needed in place? Is the training underway for new customs agents? Is the physical infrastructure being built and at pace? These complicated and challenging issues need to be addressed with urgency and clarity so businesses can respond accordingly and plan properly for the future. It cannot be left to chance that when our businesses are exporting, for example, that the key systems to manage the flow of lorries at the UK border and to make sure consignments are cleared properly in order to enter the EU are not in place. Whilst we know the government recognise this, the assurances and practical implementation need to be seen on the ground. Without them would be unacceptable to business and damaging to our reputation around the world.

Brexit presents us with challenges, yes, but also considerable opportunity. British technology and manufacturing has always been at the forefront of the entrepreneurial spirit that powered the industrial revolution and has the potential to turbo charge the next existential challenge, that of decarbonisation and a transition to a clean economy. That’s a massive opportunity for us. We have the ingenuity and ability here in Merseyside, and across the country, to rise to the most significant post war priority that we face and we can’t miss the boat (so to speak!) Responding to this, from a position of certainty and clarity, could unleash the creation of many thousands of skilled and quality jobs, with ‘levelling up’ and sharing prosperity a driving ambition. Our region must be at the heart of this and is ready to be so, but let’s deal properly with the problems at hand first as robustly and actively as we can.

Herculean efforts have been made by government, businesses and individuals to get us on the path to emerge from the crisis of COVID-19. We cannot and must not plunge ourselves into a Brexit-related crisis at this crucial time. Mersey Maritime will continue in its role by raising these important issues at the highest level it possibly can, to ensure the voice of our members – vital for the economic recovery we need to see – is heard and acted upon wherever possible.

By Mersey Maritime

Chris Shirling-Rooke: We must remain optimistic during challenging times

There is no doubt that the last few months have seen unprecedented challenges presented and responded to in our country and across the world. The start of 2020 saw many reasons for optimism. On Brexit, the political turmoil that had gripped the country since mid-2016 appeared to be coming to an end as the UK formally withdrew from the European Union and began to chart a stable path to finding its new place in the world. Locally we celebrated all that is good about the maritime sector in the region with the biggest and most high profile Mersey Maritime Industry Awards to date. They followed the ‘Third UK-US Maritime Nations Forum’ in Liverpool which focused on one aspect of a outward looking, globally focused country in the years ahead. And then COVID-19 struck.

The extent of the economic shock and beating that the economy took in March and April in particular, has been laid bare in graphic and stark detail. We have seen unprecedented drops in output and a retraction in the capacity of the economy not seen since the greatest depressions of the last century and, in effect, two lost years of economic activity. The latest economic analysis officially records that the UK is in recession and the first waves of substantial redundancies are beginning to be felt with unemployment rising rapidly, albeit the true extent not yet fully realised with the official statistics not necessarily reflecting the complete picture on the ground.

Doom and gloom you might say! However, this cannot and must not be the approach and mindset that we adopt. It is Mersey Maritime’s conviction that the fundamentals of the UK economy are sound, not least if you analyse the origins of the recession and consider how it is different to those which have gone before. For this recession is in effect a state sanctioned and initiated one. As Martin Beck reminded us at our second joint Western Union Businesses Solutions, Mersey Maritime and Maritime UK ‘Global Trade Outlook Series’ webinar in July, ‘There is nothing fundamentally wrong with many businesses. It was just that they had to temporarily shut down. Household finances have also held up quite well and the Government has injected a hell of a lot of money into the economy.’

Each of us has a responsibility to aid the economic recovery we need to see. To an extent this has already started to happen with retail sales on the rebound in strong terms and the boost this is already having beginning to be felt. This feeds naturally into a sense of optimism that is so necessary after such a seismic shock. We must get back into a position where people are wholly confident to go out and spend again and support our move back to where we were before the pandemic. The first phase of the economic response to COVID-19 was about safeguarding employment as far as possible in spite of the lockdown. The next phase, which is also a cause of optimism of itself, must seek to protect, create, support jobs and drive consumer confidence. It may take time for recovery to happen but it is a must and our sector has a crucial role to play.

Mersey Maritime: championing and supporting our industry

Mersey Maritime has a duty, indeed it is our very reason for existing, to champion, support and shout about all that is positive and possible within the maritime industry here in the Liverpool City Region and the greater north west. We have worked exceptionally hard to maintain the membership offer that we have as an organisation locally, from our largest to our smallest businesses and organisations, our presence has continued to be felt and we are proud to have done so. From the maritime business survey work we led on across the country which did a deep dive into the impact of the pandemic on local businesses, to the follow up work via the Maritime UK Maritime Business Continuity Taskforce, our region has been represented when and where it mattered most.

But there remains more to be done locally too. Recently the government confirmed £900 million of support through the new ‘Getting Building Fund’ (GBF) for investment in local, shovel-ready infrastructure projects to stimulate jobs and support economic recovery across the country. This investment is being targeted in areas facing the biggest economic challenges as a result of the pandemic. Individual allocations are awarded via Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) organisations around the nation for a wide-ranging package of projects that will deliver a much-needed boost to the local economy. LEPs are expected to deliver the agreed projects but will have flexibility to deliver the greatest economic benefits to the area.

In total, eighteen maritime projects were supported across England but regrettably such sector specific schemes were conspicuous by their absence on that list for Merseyside, apart from early infrastructure works related to Port Salford which will allow the acceleration of a rail terminal project in that vicinity. An indirect output of this work is the accelerated delivery of commercial floorspace, jobs and the ability to link international markets through the Manchester Ship Canal which we all know is a key sustainable gateway to and from the Port of Liverpool.

We must do better than this for an industry that is worth on the very latest figures available some £4.2 billion to the local economy and supports over 52,000 jobs and that’s even before you take into account the importance of logistics which is inextricably linked to the maritime sector. Mersey Maritime will make it a priority in the months ahead, through whatever means it can, to ensure the industry on which our city and our region was built upon historically reaches its maximum potential for the future. And we have a significant opportunity for that to be the case on the immediate horizon.

Spending Review: an opportunity to bounce back

The government is embarking on its latest Comprehensive Spending Review which will be published in the Autumn. Such reviews set out the government’s spending plans for the course of a parliament and are a significant opportunity as departmental resource and capital budgets are set for a given period of time. We believe, working with our partners at a national level, that there is a strong likelihood that maritime related priorities will be looked upon favourably. After all, as one of the most significant industries in the United Kingdom and the facilitator of 95% of all trade via seaborne means, we know we have a significant role to play in post COVID-19 economic recovery.

Encouragingly many of the themes being prioritised by the government are easily aligned to our priorities too such as:

  • Maximising jobs and skills to drive economic growth
  • Levelling up economic opportunity across all nations and regions of the country by investing in infrastructure, innovation and people
  • Closing the gap with our competitors by spreading opportunity, maximising productivity and improving the value add of each hour worked
  • Making the UK a scientific superpower, including leading in the development of technologies that will support the government’s ambition to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050
  • Strengthening the UK’s place in the world.

It is not hard to see how these themes align with what we want to see for the maritime industry in the Liverpool City Region. The Maritime Knowledge Hub project that we have long championed is all about jobs, skills and investment in people and innovation locally. We also know we have some of the most productive workers in the country; leading advanced manufacturing expertise; expanding ports which have seen major investment and modernisation in recent years; innovation thought leadership companies who are heavily involved in existing clean maritime and energy projects – people working now to be the progressive and innovative drivers of the need to deal with the climate crisis we face through the green economy which can and should see job opportunities too. And finally, as we were reminded earlier this year with the presence of HMS Prince of Wales in our historic and internationally significant city and riverfront, Liverpool is strategically placed to be THE country’s gateway for transatlantic trade as we work towards a comprehensive trade deal with our US allies.

Putting our region at the heart of recovery

The opportunities and possibilities are immense. Let’s seize this moment to chart a path through challenging economic realities, the problems that an economic retraction of unprecedented levels presents but also the chance to maximise new investment, new ideas and new innovations which have long been the hallmark of maritime dynamism and ability in our region. Mersey Maritime is ready to do all it can with that opportunity and we call upon all our partners to help us be the maritime northern powerhouse coastal community that leads the way in the wider country too.


By Mersey Maritime

Mersey Maritime CEO hails ‘resilience’ of its members

Mersey Maritime chief executive Chris Shirling-Rooke has paid tribute to the “resilience” of Liverpool city region’s powerhouse maritime sector during the COVID-19 crisis.

In an online Face-2-Face webinar with dozens of the industry body’s members, Chris said Mersey Maritime had been proud to provide critical support to companies across Merseyside during the past few months.

“It has been an incredibly challenging time for everybody – not just in a business context, but on a personal and emotional level,” he said. “We recognised early on how tough things were going to be and that we were going to have to engage with our members quickly, pastoral support was the biggest thing for me.”

During the lockdown period Mersey Maritime offered a number of Face-2-Face sessions and guest speakers included industry leaders and both local and national politicians.

Mersey Maritime also played a leading role in establishing the Maritime UK ‘Maritime Business Continuity Taskforce’, which didn’t just open up lines of communication with other UK maritime clusters, but also with senior Government ministers and civil servants.

Chris said there were clear signs that Merseyside’s £4.2bn maritime sector, spread across 38 sub-sectors, was now in a position to drive recovery, adding the lines of communication now opened with Government offered the region a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity”.

He added: “We know that the UK maritime sector is going to be a key priority for Government in the forthcoming Spending Review process, perhaps more so than ever before. Our involvement from the outset in the taskforce meant we were offered a conduit to Government and now we have to maximise this opportunity further if we want to see an influx of Government support into our city region.

“We have to tell them clearly where we want the investment to go. And we are talking about billions of pounds. We believe there will be around a billion pounds alone invested into maritime innovation. They want to hear about specific turnkey projects. This is all about jobs and skills and the levelling up agenda.”

High on Mersey Maritime’s agenda is the Maritime Knowledge Hub, a £25m project that was first launched at London International Shipping Week six years ago. Located in Wirral Waters, it will provide a national base for marine engineering research and development as well as skills training and business accelerator space.

Chris said he was confident the project would “break ground” by the end of this year, adding: “This project is so important and it has to happen. There have been a number of setbacks and delays that were out of our control but I would like to see the facility up and running by autumn 2022.”

He told members the global maritime sector was currently worth around $2 trillion to the global economy and that this was projected to rise to $3 trillion by 2030. In the Liverpool city region it already supports more than 52,000 jobs and Chris said Merseyside was “perfectly placed” to take advantage of the projected growth.

“In the last few months we have demonstrated the collective strength of the ecosystem we have created here. Currently 95% of global trade – all the stuff we use and consume every day – comes by boat so the maritime sector is only going to grow,” he said.

“I think Brexit will offer us the opportunities to trade even more with the rest of the world. We were previously worried about a Brexit wipeout but I think the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic has put that into perspective.”

Chris also promised ongoing support for members as they emerged from the crisis of the pandemic. In particular, he talked about specific support around innovation from October, helping members improve their systems and processes and help them increase productivity and profitability.

“The strength of the ecosystem we have created here is now being recognised in Westminster. They now have a clear understanding of how important we are,” he said. “I believe that by working together we can really bounce forward as a sector.”

By Mersey Maritime

Debts and disputes in a time of crisis

Cashflow problems and business disputes are part of the everyday world of commerce in the best of times. In the current COVID crisis such issues are manifold.

A trio of legal experts from Liverpool law firm Hill Dickinson offered an invaluable insight into navigating your way through these uncertain times during a Mersey Maritime Face-2-Face webinar.

Legal directors, Colin Lavelle and Julie Agnew, were joined by colleague Michael French, an associate at the firm, each offering a clear and concise presentation with both a general and specific maritime focus.

Terms and conditions 

Michael French opened with a presentation on minimising the risk of business disputes by ensuring clear terms and conditions formed part of any contractual agreement between a business and a customer.

“In these uncertain times business continuity can be difficult,” he said. “This is why terms and conditions are important in legal contracts between businesses and their customers… and it is important to keep them under regular review.

“They can be particularly important in the maritime sector as businesses are often dealing with customers in other parts of the world and in different legal jurisdictions. Deals are frequently done via phone calls and email.”

He added that a common problem was when terms and conditions are introduced later and not part of the initial contact…”They need to be agreed at the point the contract is formed,” said Michael.

Terms and conditions, he concluded, must be “clear and robust” and there was a responsibility to highlight any potential “onerous”, whilst excluding or any “unfair” terms if dealing with consumers. He said: “Ensure your business uses a consistent process to incorporate terms.”


The global pandemic has placed many businesses in a precarious position and this can be an issue both for your own business and for those who owe you money.

According to Julie Agnew, insolvency is defined in two ways – balance sheet and cashflow. The first concerns the balance between assets and liabilities but said the second, cashflow, was the more commonly used.

She explained: “The question is are bills being paid when they are due? Is your customer paying you late and is this a usual thing? If they often pay late then that may be just the way they are.”

What to look out for, added Julie, was customers who may usually pay on time are suddenly late with their payments. If the debt is large, they may approach you to ask to stretch the terms of payment over a longer period.

Key advice here from Julie is to stay on top of credit control. As soon as potential problems with customers arise, get on top of them quickly and find out what the situation is before it becomes more difficult to resolve. The aim being to minimise any impact your customers financial difficulties may have on your business.

She also talked about cash-flow problems you may be having with your own business. Once insolvency becomes an issue for your business, Julie explained, then your legal responsibilities as a director switch from growing your company to ensuring to look after the interests of your individual creditors.

“Can your company avoid insolvent liquidation – looking at this reasonably and objectively it is about not worsening the position of your creditors,” she said.

Protective measures

Taking more of a specific maritime focus, Colin Lavelle talked about how you can best protect your business interests in the event of disputes. In particular, he looked at the use of ‘liens’ and ‘ship arrest’ as means of taking security.

A lien is the right to retain an item of property belonging to someone else in order to secure the payment of a debt. Colin said: “For the lien to be effective you must take possession of a property lawfully and that possession must continue to be lawful.”

Failure to ensure the possession is legal, he added, may expose you to the risk of a claim in conversion, essentially a civil action for theft of that item. A common law lien can be used to detain specific goods arising from a particular transaction; whilst a contractual lien can be used more broadly depending on the terms of the contract. For example, the item may be sold to pay the debt if this is agreed in the contract.

Pitfalls to bear in mind, said Colin include possible third-party ownership of the goods or the depreciation of the goods.

Ship arrest is where you may take control of a vessel in order to secure a payment of a debt by its owner. Colin advises to explore commercial options to maximise the chances of recovery and be aware of possible expenses that may arise such as maintenance of the vessel or ensuring the welfare of the crew.

An important overall message of the webinar was that it was important to act quickly in cases of disputes or unpaid debts and that it was often better to seek consensus and agreement rather than confrontation.

By Mersey Maritime

Mersey Maritime welcomes planned transport investment to help ‘level up’ the north of England

Representative body for the Liverpool City Region’s £4.2bn maritime industry, Mersey Maritime, has welcomed the news from the Department for Transport that over £600 million worth of investment in the northern rail network will help drive improvements in the region. The Secretary of State visited Manchester last week to announce the rail network funding and the launch of the ‘Northern Transport Acceleration Council.’

Reacting to news, Chief Executive of Mersey Maritime, Chris Shirling-Rooke, said:

“Securing transport infrastructure investment in the north of England has been a long established goal of Mersey Maritime. As part of a roundtable event we hosted at last year’s London International Shipping Week in the Global Trade Hub, we focused on the imperative of east-west connectivity with a number of our key partners. The message from that seminar was crystal clear. With Liverpool as the key west coast facing port across the Atlantic and a range of east facing ports in places such as the Humber looking towards our European partners and beyond, we must invest in our transport networks now to deliver on the opportunities ahead.

“With Brexit now firmly underway and indeed the third round of UK-UK trade negotiations happening from this week, maximising the opportunities for this part of the country, from east to west, is absolutely essential. That means improvements to passenger rail and the introduction of all-electric services between Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, York and Newcastle as a minimum. The benefits of this are clear for all to see, with longer and more frequent trains creating significant amounts of additional capacity. It is vital that these improvements then move on to allowing more freight on the route. The Port of Liverpool is such a significant driver of the local economy and is only set to continue expanding in the years ahead. It cannot be allowed to have its expansion and vision pegged back by poor connectivity and infrastructure. As it currently stands, it is relatively badly connected when it comes to freight capacity, with many challenges on local roads. A really visionary, Integrated Rail Plan, must take this into account and deliver on this priority both for the port itself and the hugely significant range of businesses that rely upon it in the wider supply chain. This is an absolute necessity from our point of view.

“We also welcome the news that a new, Northern Transport Acceleration Council will give key regional leaders a direct line in to the Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, as Northern Powerhouse Minister. This body will help drive progress across the north and critically, will be supported by the Department for Transport staff based in our northern cities. London can seem a very long way from Liverpool at times. Having staff on the ground who will help influence the direction of travel in this policy area and can see for themselves first hand what might need to be focused on is essential. Regional policy priorities can’t be driven from desks in Whitehall, they need to be in the regions of the UK and in touch properly with the reality on the ground.

“With the impact of coronavirus on the economy being acutely felt, the ‘levelling up’ agenda we hear so much about finally looks like becoming a reality. And our region really is well placed to deliver long term success and growth if it has world-class infrastructure supporting it. Businesses and their employees across the area we represent expect action, progress and ambition from the government on this agenda, with the financial investment this will require. These announcements are a firm step in the right direction and we look forward to seeing the words now become a real and tangible reality across the north of England.”

By Mersey Maritime

Mersey Maritime confirms long term support for Battle of the Atlantic Memorial Charity

Mersey Maritime is pleased to announce its long term support for the Battle of the Atlantic Memorial charity. At its annual Mersey Maritime Industry Awards, held at St George’s Hall in Liverpool in March, the charity was one of two chosen to benefit from the proceeds raised on the evening through giving by those in attendance. Now Mersey Maritime can confirm their intention to promote and back this important cause, which includes HRH The Princess Royal as its Patron, and many of its existing partner organisations such as the Royal Navy as key supporters, in the long term.

Commenting, Chief Executive of Mersey Maritime, Chris Shirling-Rooke said:

“The Battle of the Atlantic was one of, perhaps the, most important campaigns of World War II, as without its success, other strategic events would not have been possible. It was the longest continuous campaign of the war, lasting from September 1939 right through to VE Day in May 1945. It deserves to be recognised in an appropriate and visual way for all future generations to see and reflect upon. This cause, to create a permanent overall memorial in the United Kingdom to the campaign, has our full support. And it has a very special place in the hearts of all those in our region. The toll was high on all sides of the campaign with more than 3,500 merchant ships sunk and thousands of naval personnel losing their lives.

“One of the most powerful elements of the MMIA video we produced this year, was the scene where Gary Doyle, Group Harbour Master at Peel Ports and chairman of the charity, reflected upon the sacrifices made by previous generations to keep our city, our country and the world free from tyranny. The Liverpool area played an absolutely vital part in that. It is right that our organisation, with its depth of knowledge and interaction across the whole of the maritime sector in this region, continues to recognise, support and honour the memory of all those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. We are deeply proud to do so.”

Gary Doyle, Chairman and Chief Executive of the Battle of the Atlantic Memorial charity, commented:

“As a maritime nation it is perhaps a surprise that we have not commemorated our greatest maritime achievement. The charity aspires to bring to life the sacrifice and enduring lessons of that campaign and recognise the crucial role played by Merseyside and indeed all the other west coast ports in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.  As the hub was Merseyside, I am of course absolutely delighted that Mersey Maritime have given their long term support to the Battle of the Atlantic Memorial Charity and recognises that not only the past, but the future of the country relies on the beating heart of a prosperous Merseyside maritime industry.”   

The name “Battle of the Atlantic” was coined by Winston Churchill in February 1941. It has been called the “longest, largest, and most complex” naval battle in history.  The campaign started immediately after the European war began, during the so-called “Phoney War“, and lasted six years, until the German Surrender in May 1945. It involved thousands of ships in more than 100 convoy battles and perhaps 1,000 single-ship encounters, in a theatre covering thousands of square miles of ocean. The situation changed constantly, with one side or the other gaining advantage, as participating countries surrendered, joined, and even changed sides in the war, and as new weapons, tactics, counter-measures, and equipment were developed by both sides. The Allies gradually gained the upper hand, overcoming German surface raiders by the end of 1942 and defeating the U-boats by mid-1943, though losses due to U-boats continued until war’s end.

The concept is to provide an appropriate memorial of international significance that recognises the totality and importance of the battle and to commemorate the sacrifice and contribution of all the men and women of all nationalities who served supporting the Battle of the Atlantic (BOA) on land, at sea and in the air.  Secondly, to recognise the important part played by Merseyside as the hub of the operation.  The development of a supporting Heritage trail that links sites across the area physically and virtually and internationally to support what is seen as the key educational role of the memorial. This will also be achieved by working closely with the Western Approaches Museum and the Merseyside Maritime Museum. With further enhancement, the aim is to possibly develop an academic centre where institutions, researchers and interested parties can visit to access information and learn more about the Battle.

For more information, visit:

By Mersey Maritime

Coastal wetlands are the ‘superheroes’ of the planet

Tony McDonough writes…

A leading ecology expert has urged Liverpool city region’s maritime to help protect our coastal wetlands which he says are vital for the survival of humans and wildlife.

And Dr Christian Dunn, a lecturer at the School of Natural Sciences at Bangor University, told members of industry body Mersey Maritime that plastic waste posed a huge threat to the environment and said that more research into its effects was needed urgently.

Dr Dunn described wetlands as the “superheroes of the natural world” due to their critical role in providing a barrier against coastal erosion and the threat it poses to life and property; providing “nurseries” for numerous animal species; and capturing huge amounts of carbon that would otherwise contribute to global warming.

He said there were three kinds of coastal wetlands – seagrass beds, salt marshes and mangroves which are only found around the equator. Dr Dunn exploded: “We have destroyed many of our wetlands over the years. But they are fantastic and complex systems and we need to start looking after them.”

Seagrass beds

There are 72 species of seagrass around the world, four of them in the UK, according to Dr Dunn. They are flowering plants that have adapted to survive in hostile marine environments. And, despite their appearance, they are not seaweed.

He said: “Seagrass can be managed by a very interesting ‘farmer’ – the shark. Turtles grazing on seagrass in Florida threaten to decimate them but when the shark comes along it forces a change in behaviour of the turtles and they don’t hang around and eat as much for fear of being eaten themselves.

“This is an extraordinary phenomenon called a ‘trophic cascade’. This is when an apex predator, one that is top of the food chain such as a shark, can change the physical environment with their presence. We saw that with the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone which had a massive impact, including changing the river course.”

Salt marshes

We see the devastating impact of coastal erosion when a major storm hits the coastline and the threat it poses to life, livelihoods and property. Dr Dunn said salt marshes can provide a critical barrier between the land and the sea.

“They are incredibly biodiverse,” he added. “They are important for all types of fish and birds who use the tides to their advantage.

And they also protect out shorelines. Installing one metre of seawall costs £5,000 but if you have around 80 metres of salt marshes between the sea and the land you can cut this down to £400 a metre.”


Dr Dunn described mangroves as “very charismatic”. He explained: “These are dense swamp areas found around the equator and consist of tangled roots and relatively tall trees. They are trees that have adapted to a saline environment. It is an incredibly unique habitat.

“There is no oxygen in saline-heavy environments so, in order to survive, the trees grow routes that grow out of the water and act as snorkels. They are the only trees in the world that can survive in such a hostile habitat.

All types of coastal wetlands are a vital part of the planet’s ecosystem, said Dr Dunn, and we fail to protect them at our peril. He added there was evidence that lives were saved during the Asian tsunami of 2004 in areas where there was thicker mangrove cover.

“We can read a massive benefit if we start to appreciate and look after our wetlands,” he said. “They are the nurseries of the sea for so many species. Life in our seas and oceans would be minimal without them.”

Dr Dunn explained that wetlands act as a filter for pollution, treating both sea water and also water entering the sea from rivers. And he also said wetlands provide a vital line of protection against the big environmental issue of the age – global warming.

He said: “Wetlands store vast amounts of carbon, which otherwise would contribute to the warming of our planet. They do this because they consist of plants which absorb and store the carbon.

“And, unlike forests on dry land, when the plants in wetlands die they don’t decompose anywhere near as quickly. Because they are a wet environment with very little oxygen, they suppress the decomposition process. Our wetlands are storing up huge amounts of climate-changing carbon.

“We call this blue carbon. Coastal wetlands make up just 2% of the ocean area and yet store half of the carbon. That is how important they are.

He also called for much greater research into the effects of plastic waste on the ocean and wetlands environments across the world. It is estimated we produce 300m tonnes of plastic waste across the planet each year, with 12.7m tonnes ending up in the oceans.

In particular, he said, we need to find out more about the impact of microplastics, which are pieces of plastic typically the size of a grain of rice or smaller. Dr Dunn described these microplastic fragments as “a real worry”.

Microplastics are found in a surprising volume or everyday items including tyres and many of the clothes we wear that comprise synthetic fabrics. Offering just one astonishing statistic, Dr Dunn revealed: “Every time you use your washing machine you will, on average, release 700,000 pieces of microplastic and this ends up in the sea.”

He has joined other researchers in looking at rivers across the UK and from Scotland to Snowdonia, evidence of plastic waste has appeared everywhere. Dr Dunn added: “Plastic is not just in water, it is also in the air. It is estimated we ingest around a credit-card sized piece of plastic every week.”

He said that not enough is known about the impact of plastic waste on the world’s wetlands. There is a theory that wetlands could help clean up plastic pollution in the way they clean up other forms of pollution, but more research was vital to find out the effects.

“We have large pieces of plastic being trapped in coastal wetlands,” he added. “And those larger pieces are breaking up into micro plastics. It could be they can turn from being a sink to a source. Perhaps there is a way we can manage plastic waste – but we really need more research.”

A Call to Action – Comprehensive Spending Review
UK could gain access to almost 500m Pacific Rim consumers
Top economist claims UK-EU trade deal will happen
Chris Shirling-Rooke: Brexit – maritime businesses must have certainty one way or another
August E-Zine
Chris Shirling-Rooke: We must remain optimistic during challenging times
Mersey Maritime CEO hails ‘resilience’ of its members
Debts and disputes in a time of crisis
July E-Zine
Mersey Maritime welcomes planned transport investment to help ‘level up’ the north of England
Mersey Maritime confirms long term support for Battle of the Atlantic Memorial Charity
Coastal wetlands are the ‘superheroes’ of the planet