Thursday, June 10, 2010

Maritime Security—protecting the maritime transportation sector through regional partnerships

Excerpt from U.S. Coast Guard “Proceedings of the Marine Safety & Security Council” magazine by CDR Michael Long, U.S. Coast Guard Sector Seattle; Mr. Pablo Martinez, the Organization of American States; Mr. Stephen Larkin, Transport Canada; and Mr. Marc Mes, Transport Canada.

Transportation security is a major and continuing challenge in today’s global environment. In the maritime transportation environment, where overlapping jurisdictions, competitive pressures, and international pressures are the norm, cooperation through partnerships is especially important.

The United States Coast Guard and Transport Canada (TC)/Marine Security recognize that maritime security requires not only a collaborative approach, but also an international approach. As a result, the USCG and TC/Marine Security have broadened their extremely close maritime security working relationship to include partnerships with regional organizations.

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum and the Organization of American States (OAS) are two such organizations where the USCG (through its International Ports Security Program) and TC/Marine Security have worked to broaden international consensus to implement international maritime security standards, share best practices, and increase capacity.

ISPS Code Implementation Assistance
One of the first major projects of the APEC’s Inter-American Committee Against Counter-Terrorism (MEG-SEC) was forming the ISPS Code Implementation Assistance Program (ICIAP). The ICIAP was a joint proposal of Australia, Canada, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, and the U.S. to provide training and other forms of port security capacity-building assistance to the developing member economies of Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.

The first phase training focused on ISPS Code awareness workshops and developing organizational frameworks to implement ISPS Code requirements, while the second phase concentrated on ISPS Code-related drills and exercises and security assessments. The third phase will include the Port Security Visit Program (PSVP), as detailed below.

ISPS Code Standardization, Best Security Practices, Needs Assessments
Recognizing that the performance-based nature of the ISPS Code resulted in many APEC economies embracing differing methodologies and levels of ISPS Code compliance, MEG-SEC developed a port security visit program aimed at promoting an increased level of consistent code implementation across the Asia-Pacific region.

The port security visit program entails member economies hosting a delegation of maritime security experts from other APEC economies to review the host economy’s ISPS Code implementation conventions and results to recognize best security practices and identify ISPS Code implementation needs.

Within the OAS, following a sub-regional pattern, the Inter-American Committee Against Counter-Terrorism Secretariat conducted workshops on best practices in implementing international maritime security standards for each targeted sub-region—Southern Cone, the Andes, Central America, and the Caribbean. The aim was to promote cooperation and exchange of best practices on port security threats and methods to counter them.

The CICTE Secretariat also conducts assessments and training activities within the region. Based on the assessments, and building on the experience gained from the USCG’s International Port Security Program visits, CICTE tailors security training to mitigate the risks confronting each member state. Additionally, the training needs assessments also evaluate significant security precautions, such as access control to restricted areas; handling of cargo, ship stores, and unaccompanied baggage; and facility security monitoring procedures. The subsequent training specifically addresses basic aspects of port facilities’ security, access control, and customs and law enforcement procedures.

Looking Ahead
Through this continued close collaboration, the U.S., Canada, the other APEC economies, and OAS member states will continue to enhance the security of the maritime transportation sector.

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