THE Solent has been showing its £5.8billion maritime economy to a national body holding its first post-Covid conference in the region.

The visit of Maritime UK’s national council yesterday highlighted the region’s role as the “beating heart” of the world’s marine sector.

Maritime UK is the country’s umbrella body for the maritime sector, which is said to support more than a billion jobs and contribute £46.1bn to the economy.

Anne-Marie Mountifield, chair of Maritime UK Solent, who has been a member of Maritime UK's national council for over three years, said: "It is an honour for Maritime UK Solent to receive the National Council for the first in-person meeting after such a long time.

“It highlights the level of success achieved by our regional cluster, and the significant contribution to the regional and national economy made by the Solent's maritime sector.

“Over the past year alone, we've seen the first commercially available shore-power at the new Horizon Cruise Terminal at the Port of Southampton, the successful bid for the Solent Freeport, and a maritime business network grow to over 600 local businesses of all sizes.

"The Solent has 340 miles of coastline, three islands, three peninsulas, three major international gateway ports, an emerging freeport, world-leading training institutions and a rich maritime heritage.

“All of this drives a powerful £5.8bn maritime economy, making the Solent the beating heart of the world's marine and maritime sector.

“The National Council's choice to visit the Solent to reboot our regular strategic meetings after Covid restrictions, provides a welcome opportunity to showcase our thriving maritime sector and the Solent's maritime strengths and innovation on a national stage."

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Ben Murray, chief executive of Maritime UK, said: “There is incredible energy across the maritime sector right now, and Maritime UK’s National Council has lots to discuss. From the National Shipbuilding Strategy to decarbonisation and pandemic recovery, leaders from across maritime are working together to ensure we’re on track to realise our Maritime 2050 ambitions. The Solent has a pivotal role to play in that mission, and we’re therefore delighted to be gathering in the region for this important meeting.”

The national council was held at Portsmouth International Port.

Mike Sellers, the port’s director, said: “We’re delighted to host Maritime UK’s national council meeting. The maritime sector is crucial for the economy and we are committed to provide opportunities that showcases the essential role this industry provides.”