The Maritime Action Plan delivered

During the past year, a large part of the Swedish maritime sector, under the management of the Swedish Maritime Forum, have been working with a maritime action plan. The plan is a follow up on the Government's maritime strategy announced the fall of 2015 and the plan contains several suggestions how the work with the strategy can continue.

Maritime Forum CEO Joachim Glassell and Infrastructure Minister Anna Johansson

The plan as a whole will be available at the Maritime Forum website, and contains a long series of points and suggestions towards the ongoing work with the Swedish Maritime Strategy. During the presentation, Joachim Glassell, CEO Maritime Forum, highlighted three areas particularly important; the importance of an improved community planning, better regulation, and research and innovation.

As for improving community planning, the action plan highlights the necessity of support for municipalities developing attractive coastal areas and the maritime industry needs to be taken into account in the long-term planning. Efforts could be made to strengthen local authorities' skills in coastal and marine planning and there is also a need for national guidelines.

Complicated and time-consuming regulations that do not harmonise with the outside world is a concern that a number of maritime companies contend with. The action plan proposes that "regulation pilots" within relevant authorities could support companies. In addition, a simplification of the rules needs to happen and authorities who work wholly or partly with maritime affairs could be better coordinated.

During the third point, research and innovation, Joachim Glassell called for a specific maritime research initiative. A strong contribution from the government is needed in order for Sweden to remain in the limelight of maritime research.

The maritime sector also calls for a coordinator of the Swedish Maritime Strategy.

- For the maritime strategy to gain a foothold and for action to happen, a coordinator from the government is needed. It would be positive for the industry to have a focal point, that there is a body to turn to, says Joachim Glassell.

Infrastructure Minister Anna Johansson, who attended the presentation and received the action plan said that it is important that the maritime strategy will be taken into account in other areas, it is more important to find synergies with other processes rather than that the maritime strategy should have its own office.

- But we will ensure that maritime issues are addressed in other contexts, says Anna Johansson.

When asked what the government did to comply with the maritime strategy, Anna Johansson highlighted the different Governmental assignments handed out, and where the result will form the basis for further work on the strategy.

  • Statistics Sweden (SCB) - produces industry statistics for the maritime sector

  • Business Sweden -  maps goods, services, and markets products for the maritime sector

  • Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management - evaluates and monitors the maritime strategy

  • Transport Analysis - analyses the introduction of NECA

  • The Swedish Maritime Administration - investigating the possibilities for developing inland waterways and coastal shipping.

Over 100 people have been involved in working with the maritime action plan. The work has been done in six different focus groups and there have been four open strategy meetings during the past year. When the plan was presented to the Minister for Infrastructure, a panel representing the maritime cluster contributed with additional perspective.

- We have to look outside of Sweden, and must be able to relate to the outside world. How have they done? It's not cheating to pick smart ideas from other countries. It's something we can do, Rickard Engström, Swedish Shipowners' Association, says.

- It is important to look ahead and are already start thinking about training and education for skills that will be needed 20 years ahead, Jessica Hjerpe Olausson, Region Västra Götaland, says.

- It is important to get a greater cooperation with the new industries. We need to work more on that issue and that work will take place within the Maritime Forum, Karina Linnér, Swedish Maritime Technology Forum, says.

Text: Andreas Kron