The ISPS Code was written by many larger countries with major ports and facilities in response to the devastating terrorist acts of September 11, 2001. Smaller maritime-dependent nations throughout the Western Hemisphere met these steep mandates through a combination of ingenuity and best practices that have drastically improved the region’s maritime transportation system.
The Inter-American Committee on Ports (CIP) initiated hemispheric conferences on port security to encourage Organization of American States (OAS) member nations to discuss the state of security in their respective ports and share best practices for port security.
More than 200 delegates attended a recent conference, including the director of the Specialized Body of Port Security from the Dominican Republic, the chair of the Executive Board for the Inter-American Committee on Ports, the assistant secretary general of OAS, and International Maritime Organization representatives, along with various other senior personnel from the private and public sectors of their respective nations. U.S. delegates included Maritime Administration, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Coast Guard, and state partnership program representatives.
In the photo foreground is Mr. Sean Connaughton, MARAD administrator and head of delegation for the United States. Also pictured is RDML Kevin Cook, U.S. Coast Guard, second row.
The State of Security and Best Practices
The conference primarily focused on the OAS member nations reporting the state of security in their respective ports and their best practices. In addition, several key international organizations presented on the state of port security international standards and regulations from a global perspective. Seven regional port terminals were highlighted as leaders in technological advances and implementation techniques:
- Manzanillo International Terminals, Republic of Panama;
- APM Terminal Limited, Kingston, Jamaica;
- Puerto Multimodal Caucedo, Dominican Republic;
- Puerto Barrios, Guatemala;
- Puerto de Veracruz, Mexico;
- Puerto de Buenos Aires, Argentina;
- Haina International Terminal, Dominican Republic.
Additionally, four of the seven ports highlighted (Manzanillo, Kingston, Caucedo, and Buenos Aires) have been certificated by Customs and Border Protection as “container security initiative ports” because they implemented a security regime to ensure all containers that pose a potential terrorism risk are identified and inspected in their ports before they are placed on vessels destined for the United States.
The U.S. Coast Guard international port security officer highlighted specific best practices, as observed in various countries throughout the region, including using Internet-based worker access cards, command control TV surveillance systems, and implementing mandatory training for workers.
The Way Forward
As port security continues to improve throughout the Western Hemisphere, it is clear that the private sector will make port security essential to its business plan, picking those ports that have the best security to remain competitive in the shipping market.
The logical next step is to improve partnerships. Leveraging government-to-government contacts will especially help those nations with small law enforcement agencies and little maritime background.
Additionally, organizations such as the Caribbean Shipping Association have been committed to improving and effectively enforcing the safety and security of the ports in the region. Leveraging these industry connections is vital to enabling the Western Hemisphere to build a framework of successful port security programs.
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