We are an island nation and consequently 90% of everything we buy arrives at our shores by sea. FTA represents companies across the water freight sector including Ports, Operators (Ferry, Coastal and Inland Waterways), Shippers who rely on water freight to move their goods and Road Hauliers, Rail Operators and Forwarders who move goods to and from maritime ports. We campaign on behalf of all our members to maximise the potential of water freight for the UK.

Helping water freight deliver

Water freight is a crucial sector of UK logistics. FTA is campaigning on the foremost sector issues such as: 

  • improving inland connections to ports (road, rail and inland waterways);
  • developing sustainable grant schemes;
  • ensuring water freight is supported through government policy (e.g. planning rules and financial incentives);
  • new environmental regulations;
  • rising operating costs;
  • safety and cargo security. 

FTA also works with its members across the modes to seek industry led solutions to shared problems.

Inland waterways, short sea and coastal shipping accounts for 15% of UK freight movements. FTA members are active in all these areas on behalf of members. The FTA has developed ‘Freight by Water’ which is recognised as the UK's official body for promoting the benefits of water freight as a commercially and environmentally sustainable mode of transport.

Freight by Water

Freight by Water is an FTA led initiative for promoting the use of water freight. Freight by Water’s remit covers short sea, coastal and inland water freight in the UK. It aims to increase the use of existing water freight services and to facilitate the development of new services for the benefit of the UK supply chain.

Global Shippers' Forum

On a global level, the FTA's role in the Global Shippers' Forum enables us to engage with the United Nations maritime authority (the IMO), and other bodies such as the OECD, World Shipping Council, the International Cargo Handling Co-ordination Association and the TT Club of insurers. GSF is a regular contributor to policy discussions and developments on important sector issues such as the SOLAS Container Weight Verification Regulations.

View Advice

FTA and the environment

Like many human activities the transportation of goods from A to B by rail, water, road or air all of it has an impact on the environment. Some modes more damaging than others, but the FTA works with all to reduce their effect.  


On Board: Innovation and carbon savings in water freight

The On Board! case studies show that water freight can play an effective and reliable role in supply chain operations of all kinds. This research emerged from the FTAs Mode Change Centre initiative. 


SOLAS – CWV Regulation

SOLAS regulations first introduced in 1914, have been amended every 15 years or so, the most recent significant change concerned container weight verification and came into force in July 2016.   


Water Campaigns