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How will maritime services be delivered in an independent Scotland?

What will change in maritime functions with independence? Scotland has approximately 60 per cent of the seas and coastline of Great Britain. However, the essential maritime institutions (the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Northern Lighthouse Board and Marine Accident Investigation Branch) are currently controlled by Westminster. The Scottish Government currently has no say in how these essential services are delivered.

Independence will let Scotland shape and develop maritime services that reflect our unique coastline and give the people who use our seas the support they need. The Scottish Government intends that the Maritime and Coastguard Agency will continue to provide its services for the safety of mariners. It also plans that the Northern Lighthouse Board and Marine Accident Investigation Branch will continue its role unchanged in an independent Scotland, funded by existing arrangements for the collection of light dues at Scottish ports through Trinity House.

It will then be for future governments of an independent Scotland to look at how these services would be provided in the years ahead. This may, if appropriate, include developing a distinct Scottish organisation to deliver some or all of these functions.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will an independent Scotland remain a member of international organisations like the International Maritime Organisation and the International Civil Aviation Organisation when independent?

Aviation and maritime regulations will continue to apply in an independent Scotland as these activities, by their nature, are subject to international regulations. The Scottish Government intends that Scotland, as an independent state, will become a member of these organisations.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will the Royal National Lifeboat Institution continue to provide services?

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is totally independent of government and serves the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man as well as the United Kingdom. The RNLI is an integral part of the maritime search and rescue structure. Its purpose is to save lives at sea and the organisation has a proud history of providing lifeboat services and volunteer crews. Decisions about the RNLI are for the Institution itself, but we can see no obstacle to it continuing to play its vital role around the coasts of Scotland as it does around the rest of these islands.

There is a long history of maritime search and rescue being co-ordinated across borders and boundaries with all available resources and vessels deployed to assist in any incident. This will continue to be the case after independence.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will Scotland register ships?

Yes. The present Scottish Government intends that an independent Scotland will set up a Shipping Register.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will the standards for vessels be the same as in the rest of the UK?

Most standards for shipping and vessel safety are set by international agreement through the International Maritime Organisation and the EU and these will continue to apply in an independent Scotland as they do for the rest of the UK.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will there be any changes to the operation or structure of harbour authorities?

All of the Statutory Harbour Authorities in Scotland operate under their own local legislation. There is no reason for this to change with independence.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.