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Keeping the sea in mind

The Awards pay tribute to those who promote awareness of maritime issues, and of our dependence on the sea

Desmond Wettern on the bridge of HMS Battleaxe in 1981

Maritime Media Awards Brochure 2009

The Maritime Media Awards were established by the Maritime Foundation in 1995 in honour of the late Desmond Wettern, naval correspondent of the Daily Telegraph. He believed passionately that in times of difficulty the nation would always have to call on the Royal Navy and the Merchant Navy. In peacetime, however, the government finds it all too easy to take maritime activities for granted, and the sea, international trade and geopolitical upheavals are generally outside the compass of our daily preoccupations. Desmond Wettern therefore argued that informed journalists had a responsibility to ensure that the sea remained in the forefront of the nation’s consciousness.

The facts are that Britain has six hundred ports and over ten thousand miles of coastline. Nine out of ten items for import or export travel by sea. While aviation transports two million tons of freight a year, shipping handles one and a half million tons of cargo every day. Shipping is vital to the nation’s energy supplies – so much so that within three years Milford Haven and the Isle of Grain terminals will provide over half of the UK’s gas requirement, shipped from the Middle East.

In these pages we have many interesting articles on a diverse range of topics. The age-old problem of piracy is still with us, escalating dramatically a year ago with the capture of the tanker Sirius Star off the Somali coast. Global fish stocks continue to be depleted through overfishing and the failure of the Common Fisheries Policy, but the new EU framework of Maritime Spatial Planning provides some grounds for optimism. Many anniversaries are celebrated this year, including the birth of Charles Darwin and the establishment of the Port of London Authority. And, looking to the future, there are of course many ways of capitalising on the enthusiasm of young people – whether by joining the Sea Cadets or more individually through sailing, diving, fishing, or even ship visits. The Portsoy project shows the importance of acquiring traditional boatbuilding and sea-faring skills, and shows how the sea can impact on our daily lives.

The media has a real responsibility to explain all these issues. Desmond Wettern always argued that the country needed to engage people in maritime activities if they were to truly understand the importance of the sea. In this context the Maritime Media Awards can add a sense of purpose and encouragement to those writers and journalists who truly understand maritime affairs.

The Maritime Foundation is grateful to the Gosling Foundation, the Joseph Strong Frazer Trust, Onshore Marine Medical Services, and to all supporters and contributors to this brochure. We also congratulate the winners, and indeed all those whose work was nominated. The standard this year has been impressively high, and every individual has played a significant part in raising public awareness of maritime issues and the dependence of the United Kingdom on the sea. Desmond Wettern would have been reassured to see that his campaigning continues.