||Informa Law from Routledge
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Two-thirds of the surface of the globe is occupied by water, either fresh or salt. Fresh water only accounts for a small percentage of this total, as the vast majority is accounted for by salt water in the form of the world's seas and oceans. These masses of water separate continents from each other, as well as providing a source of livelihood to a wide variety of people and professions, from national defence services, through the fishing industry and the offshore oil and gas sector, to the carriage of commercial goods by sea. In some ways, the nature of the sea may seem placid and even romantic -it has spawned some of the finest literature over the past centuries, from novels, to poetry, as well as countless musical creations dedicated to its beauty, both classical and popular. But the nature of the sea can also be extremely wild, creating tempests so violent that coastlines are being steadily eroded, communities destroyed and livelihoods shattered. Every year, there are many instances of shipwrecks, founderings and sinkings of vessels as a result of what may be best described as 'force majeure'. Many lives have been lost as a result, despite the best efforts of rescue teams, including the UK's Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) ands its gallant volunteers, and such occurrences are a stark reminder to all of the sheer destructive power of nature, especially in its rawest form. Anyone who listens to the Shipping Forecast issued by the Meteorological Office on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency will equally be reminded of these natural conditions. But behind the seemingly endless stream of lists of weather conditions around the British coastline delivered from the Meteorological Office, there lurks another major issue - that of the nature of shipping within the maritime framework, and why it is so important to the national economy and its lifeblood. The issue of maritime transport covers a variety of circumstances, from cruise vessels designed for the large-scale maritime entertainment of the international public, through the international passenger and cargo ferry network plying regional maritime routes, to the huge container ships deployed in the carriage of long-distance, deep-sea voyages around the globe.