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September 19, 2002

Maritime security initiatives make progress
IMO, the International Maritime Organization, has released brief details about last week's meeting in preparation for a Diplomatic Conference in December that is expected to adopt a completely new regulatory regime designed to prevent ships and their cargoes becoming the targets of terrorist activities.


The new measures center around a proposed International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPFS).

Part A of the ISPFS code will be made mandatory through amendments to the Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS). Part B of the Code has been drafted as guidance material and is recommendatory.

The overall objectives of the Code are to establish an international framework involving co-operation between Contracting Governments, Government agencies, local administrations and the shipping and port industries to detect security threats and take preventive measures against security incidents affecting ships or port facilities used in international trade. It will establish their respective roles and responsibilities and ensure the early and efficient collection and exchange of security-related information.

The Code philosophy is that, because each ship and each port facility present different risks, the Contracting Government should determine and set the appropriate security level.  Security levels 1, 2 and 3 will correspond to normal, medium and high threat situations, respectively.  The security level creates a link between the ship and the port facility, since it triggers the implementation of appropriate security measures for the ship and for the port facility.  The Code will provide a methodology for security assessments to be made so that plans and procedures to react to changing security levels can be established.

At security level 1, for instance, it is envisaged that the activities to be carried out aboard ship would include the following: ensuring the performance of all ship security duties; monitoring restricted areas to ensure that only authorized persons have access; controlling access to the ship; monitoring of deck areas and areas surrounding the ship; controlling the embarkation of persons and their effects; supervising the handling of cargo and ship’s stores; and ensuring that port-specific security communication is readily available.

By the same token, security level 1 would require a number of actions within the port facility, among them ensuring the performance of all port facility security duties; monitoring restricted areas to ensure that only authorized persons have access; controlling access to the port facility; monitoring of the port facility, including mooring areas; supervising the handling of cargo and ships’ stores and ensuring that security communication is readily available.

Among the provisions of the Code are requirements for shipping companies to appoint security officers at company level and for individual ships, and for each ship to carry an approved ship security plan on board. The plan should include measures to be taken at each of the three security levels referred to earlier.

Ships would also be required to carry a Continuous Synopsis Record, which would provide a lifetime record of details such as the vessel’s identification, ownership, registration and classification.

Security assessments would be required for all port facilities coming within the scope of the Code, and these would have to be reviewed and verified by the Contracting Government. On the basis of this assessment, a port facility security plan would be established. Furthermore, a port facility security officer would be designated for each port facility.

Aside from the provisions of the Code, the meeting also worked on revisions to the SOLAS Convention that would address control requirements and security alert devices to be carried aboard ships.

DOCUMENTATION, CONTAINER SECURITY
IMO is cooperating with the International Labor Organization (ILO) on the issue of seafarer identification, and has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the World Customs Organization (WCO), mainly aimed at strengthening co-operation in the fields of container examination and integrity in multimodal transport and matters relating to the ship/port interface.

Earlier this month, an international task force met at the World Customs Organization (WCO) in Brussels to initiated an action plan which is designed to secure international trade against terrorist acts.

Summarizing the initial discussions, the WCO Deputy Secretary-General, Kunio Mikuriya said that within a heavy future work programme a number of specific areas of work had been identified:

  • It was necessary to identify key data elements to be incorporated into the WCO Data Model to enable customs services identify high-risk consignments
  • Guidance would be developed to assist the establishment of a legal basis for the collection, transmission, sharing and confidentiality of data.
  • The WCO’s 1972 Convention on Containers would be reviewed
  • Guidelines relating to security would be drafted to encourage the voluntary co-operation with business.
  • A needs assessment tool would be developed to assist individual customs administrations to assess their developmental needs
  • Customs administrations would be assisted by the creation of a WCO databank of technical inspection and detection devices.

Mikuriya said that these and other matters which had been discussed would be treated as matters of top priority. The new international security environment now meant tackling some past issues that had previously been thought to be impenetrable. The current situation was forcing a critical look at these issues to find appropriate solutions.

The task force will meet again in Brussels on November 7 & 8 to commence work on these tasks and to consider a wide range of inter-sessional work that will take place.

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