The trade association that represents ferry has called on the government to provide financial support quickly to keep services running.
The UK Chamber of Shipping said a steep drop in passenger numbers due to the COVID-19 pandemic has adversely affected the economics of the sector.
Services are just days away from being severely reduced, the group said. This could impact on supplies of food, medical equipment and other imported goods.
The majority of the UK's trade in goods is transported by sea. Up to 50% of the nation's food is imported. However, ferry companies such as P&O, Brittany Ferries and Stena rely income from passengers too to stay profitable.
Bob Sanguinetti, chief executive of the UK Chamber of Shipping, told the BBC: "We have a number of companies explaining how much money they're losing - we're talking millions every day. What we're asking for is not a wholesale bailout, it's for the government to share and underwrite some of the risk and the costs to allow the ferry companies to continue providing that vital, lifeline service to the country."
The Department for Transport said it would engage with companies.
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