From shipping, fishing and boatbuilding to marine engineering, renewables and water-sports, Cornwall’s coastline continues to be at the heart of its economy – and offers investors a major opportunity. 

With the longest coastline of any county in the UK, it’s no surprise that the marine and maritime sectors have been at the heart of Cornwall’s industrial heritage. But few areas of the UK today can match the diversity of marine businesses thriving in Cornwall’s ports and beaches.

As one of the world’s largest natural deep-water harbours, Falmouth is a natural centre for the marine sector. Today it not only offers commercial cargo handling and secure laying-up facilities for idle tonnage, but it retains its reputation for excellence in ship repair with three large graving docks and five wet berths. This provides a range of opportunities for companies in the repair sector, of which A&P Falmouth remains the largest. The town is also a major fishing port.

Truro, further up-river, is a thriving commercial port with excellent road and rail connections, making it a popular hub for bulk and palletised cargo. Both these ports, and the many smaller ones, are run by professional and experienced harbour authorities who continue to invest in developing facilities.

While the high volume of commercial shipping provides a range of opportunities for marine businesses, the leisure sector is perhaps faster-growing still. From prestige yacht building to managing marinas and sailing events, to diving, canoeing and coasteering, the Cornish climate and coastline make the county one of the most popular water-sports areas of the UK, while Newquay is the UK’s surf capital and a globally recognised destination for the sport. Local businesses have been quick to capitalise, manufacturing equipment and providing tuition and crew.

The technical skills and innovation of the marine sector have also proved invaluable in a range of other industries. For example, the engineering expertise of yacht builders Pendennis was invaluable in realising the architectural vision of a streamlined aluminium and glass construction for the NatWest Media Centre at Lords Cricket Ground in London.

This diverse and dynamic sector is estimated to be worth more than £400m a year. With increasing demand for undersea exploration, cable-laying and of course the development of marine renewables – all of which Cornwall already has a lead in – that figure seems certain to rise.

At a Glance

Mature maritime sector worth more than £400m a year, employing about 14,000 people

Outstanding natural harbour facilities and well-established ports

Leaders in ship repairs, yacht building and cargo handling

Home to some of Europe’s most productive fishing ports

Thriving leisure sector: sailing, surfing, and a cruise liner destination

Emerging as a leader in marine renewables

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