Smith Welcomes the Introduction of a European Maritime Day

27 March 2008
SNP MEP Alyn Smith has welcomed the introduction of an annual European Maritime Day on 20 May to celebrate Europe's maritime heritage and marine-related issues, and written to Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead MSP to suggest that Scotland get behind the day with a programme of events.

It is hoped that the EU celebration will promote, educate and inspire pride in Europe's maritime heritage while helping to boost the falling number of recruits into maritime industries. To mark the first ever European Maritime Day, the EU institutions are expected to sign an official declaration in Strasbourg and Mr Smith hopes that this will be a great opportunity to link events in Scotland with events in other European maritime nations.

Speaking from Edinburgh Mr Smith said:

"It is impossible to overstate the influence of Europe's maritime sector. It has shaped the world and Scotland has always been to the fore be it shipbuilding, fishing, oil and gas explorationor marine energy. We are absolutely right to commemorate and celebrate the part that it has played in years past whilst also recognising what we can still gain from marine technologies and tourism in ourcoastal areas.

"Scotland has made an enormous contribution to maritime industries and we are world-renowned for our production of ships and other marine equipment. As well as being part of our heritage it is very much part of our future too and European maritime day will hopefully go a small way to reverse the impression across the whole of Europe that marine issues are something of the past.

"I want to see the Scottish Government embrace this day of celebration, and use it to highlight and target the issues that many of Scotland's port cities and towns are currently facing. We must ensure that these fragile and often beautiful areas are safeguarded, renovated and maintained.

"The ports and docks are important providers of jobs and training for those wishing to enter into a career in maritime industries, and it is also in towns like these which have such direct links to the sea that much of the new-blood enters the industry. We need to guarantee that enough support is given to our sea-side towns and cities so that those who want to pursue a maritime career have the opportunities and skills available to assist them."

Alyn's Letter to Richard Lochhead