EU moves to improve maritime safety are being backed by SNP MEP Ian Hudghton who broadly supported proposals which came before the European Parliament in Brussels today (Wednesday). The SNP President spoke in the debate in parliament and highlighted Scotland's maritime history and the sector's huge future potential.

MEPs were voting on a package of maritime legislation dealing with safety requirements, liability for maritime carriers, ship safety standards, and accident investigation standards. Speaking in the debate in Parliament, Mr Hudghton said:

"I represent Scotland - a nation with a long maritime history and a tremendous potential for the future. Scotland is geographically well-placed to develop maritime transport hubs between Europe and the rest of the world, and we have considerable scope to develop additional short sea routes for passengers as well as freight.

"Improved safety at sea is therefore of importance to us, having had our share of serious accidents involving shipping in Scotland's waters. The carrying of hazardous materials must be transparently declared and properly controlled, crews should have the right to be treated fairly, with due consideration for their safety and we must learn from past failings by guaranteeing that independent investigations are carried out when accidents do occur.

"The Scottish Government recently announced that a new operator is to resume the ferry service between Rosyth and Zeebrugge. If there is to be a movement of traffic from the roads to our seas, then I hope that the European Union will take a more pro-active role in encouraging the establishment of additional services of this type."

Following the vote, the MEP commented:

"I'm reasonably pleased with the outcome. We've certainly sent a signal to the Commission and to Transport Ministers that we're serious about improving maritime safety without placing unrealistic burdens on the industry. I have some concerns about the measures dealing with the liability of carriers in the event of accidents, but I'm optimistic these issues can be resolved during the passage of this legislation."

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