Caribbean Ports Receiving Security & Counterterrorism Assistance

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A coalition of Caribbean and Florida-based non-governmental organizations has selected SeaSecure LLC, a global leader in maritime security and risk management, to perform a large-scale security survey of ports in the Caribbean Basin.

A coalition of Caribbean and Florida-based non-governmental organizations has selected SeaSecure LLC, a global leader in maritime security and risk management, to perform a large-scale security survey of ports in the Caribbean Basin. The project, which included coordination with many Caribbean governments and the US Coast Guard, will issue a series of final reports the week of June 6, 2004.

Working with funds from the US Agency for International Development and the private sector, the Caribbean Basin Maritime Security Alliance contracted with SeaSecure to perform a security compliance survey of international ports in the region. The Alliance is headed by Caribbean-Central American Action, an independent organization that promotes private sector-led economic development in the Caribbean Basin.

Seaport authorities, port facility operators, and shipping companies are all facing a stringent new international security regulation, the International Port Facility and Security (ISPS) Code, which comes into effect on 1 July 2004. In particular, they must perform vulnerability assessments and subsequently implement adequate safeguards against terrorism and crime, or risk heavy sanctions by other governments including the barring of ships arriving from non-compliant ports. The UN’s International Maritime Organization (IMO) adopted the ISPS Code in December 2002.

In a special report commissioned by the Florida Ports Council and released earlier this week, SeaSecure reported that, as of June 1, 2004, the majority of ports in the region had yet to meet all of the requirements set forth in the ISPS Code. Some of the reasons cited include a lack of effective communications between governments and the ports affected regarding the ISPS Code; insufficient capital to institute costly security infrastructure improvements; and, a paucity of maritime security expertise and experience within the affected countries. There is concern that many of these ports will not meet the July 1 deadline.

However, in the event ports cannot carryout the recommendations called for in their security assessments, the ISPS Code provides some relief: The port may institute an ‘alternative’ program wherein some temporary measure that provides equivalent risk mitigation is used in the interim. Alternative plans will be used by many Caribbean ports to become compliant while they secure funding or installation of assessment-recommended risk mitigation measures.

Bright spots do exist in the region. There are ports and port facilities that have already achieved or will achieve full compliance before the deadline. Jamaica, for example, has expended significant effort and money to have its major ports meet the requirements of the ISPS Code in advance of July 1. Also, port facilities in Aruba, Antigua, Barbados, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent, and Trinidad & Tobago are expected to have compliant programs in place prior to the July 1 deadline.

Further, the majority of Caribbean cruise terminals visited within the past 90 days by SeaSecure show a likelihood of compliance with the ISPS Code by July 1. The prospect for compliance is enhanced in those countries where there has been direct support from the cruise lines. Seminars and training programs held in 2003 by such groups as the International Council of Cruise Lines helped to raise the level of ISPS Code awareness among cruise terminal operators and shipping agencies.

“Port authorities have been put on notice by governments like the United States that they intend to scrutinize their security operations carefully against the requirements of the ISPS Code,” said Kim Petersen, SeaSecure’s President. “Ports that receive ships from outside their country are obliged to demonstrate that they have performed a security assessment, written a security plan, and instituted all necessary improvements to effectively mitigate the threat of terrorism. Even in the United States, this is proving a daunting task. However, for countries in the developing world, it is in many cases a crushing obligation. This exhaustive survey program is intended to identify those countries or ports that are in need of outside assistance, measure the steps necessary to achieve compliance, and determine the level of funding required to implement necessary infrastructure changes.”

Anton Edmunds, Deputy Director of Caribbean-Central American Action, the lead member of the Alliance, added, “With the implementation of the ISPS Code in July, Caribbean Basin countries face the prospect of significant disruptions to their ability to trade with countries like the United States. Far from being reluctant to act in defending against terrorism, however, there is unanimity in resolve among the leaders in the Caribbean. However, the problem many of these countries face is a lack of technical resources and funding to meet the strict compliance standards of the ISPS Code. This regional maritime security audit by SeaSecure, a world leader in maritime security, along with the follow-on assistance that we hope to arrange, is a critical step in protecting commerce along the United States' ‘Third Border.’”

Petersen closed by saying, “SeaSecure is very proud to be a part of this critically important program for the Caribbean Basin. We appreciate the opportunity to work with each country, the members of the Alliance, and the regulatory bodies, particularly the United States Coast Guard, in promoting a safe and secure Caribbean.”

About the Caribbean Basin Maritime Security Alliance:

The Caribbean Basin Maritime Security Alliance (CBMSA) is a partnership between Caribbean-Central American Action and the Florida Ports Council, in association with the Caribbean Shipping Association and the Port Management Association of the Caribbean. Working with CARICOM, the Organization of American States, the International Maritime Organization, the Inter-American Development Bank, the United States Agency for International Development as well as other representative bodies from the Caribbean Basin, the CBMSA seeks to ensure uninterrupted maritime trade along America’s ‘Third Border’ by: 1) strengthening port and ship security within the region; 2) meeting the compliance requirements of the IMO’s International Ship & Port Facility Security Code; and, 3) acknowledging the maritime security and strategic concerns of the United States by way of a program of mutual cooperation and partnership.

About Caribbean-Central American Action:

Caribbean-Central American Action (CCAA) is a private, independent organization that promotes private sector-led economic development in the Caribbean Basin and throughout the Hemisphere. The organization serves its goal of facilitating trade and investment by stimulating a constructive dialogue between the private and public sectors to improve the policy and regulatory environments for business on both the international and local level. The organization conducts policy-oriented programs in sectors such as financial services, transportation, energy, agriculture, apparel, intellectual property rights, tourism, telecommunications, and information technology. Headquartered in Washington, DC, CCAA is a non-profit, non-governmental charitable organization.

About the Florida Ports Council:

The Florida Ports Council (FPC) is a Florida nonprofit corporation and serves as a professional association for seaports and their management. The fourteen deepwater port directors comprise the Board of Directors with staff support located in Tallahassee and South Florida. The FPC provides leadership and information on seaport-related issues before the Legislative and Executive Branches of State and Federal Government. The Florida Ports Council also provides administrative support services on matters related to the Florida Seaport and Economic Development Council.

About SeaSecure LLC:

Headquartered in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, SeaSecure is widely recognized as the global leader in maritime security and risk management. A multi-disciplinary company, SeaSecure provides risk consulting services (including vulnerability assessments, and design & engineering); risk management solutions (including project management, procurement, and management software tools); training; and, maritime guard services.    SeaSecure’s staff members have performed security and vulnerability assessments in over 90 countries and 170 seaports. In 2001, SeaSecure was appointed Senior Advisor on Maritime & Seaport Security to all of Florida's deep-water ports. SeaSecure's international clientele includes some of the world's largest seaports, shipping companies, and cruise lines. SeaSecure provides renowned maritime security training to governments and industry, including the US Coast Guard, US Department of Homeland Security, and the governments of China, Aruba, Turkey, Grenada, and many others. Its executives sit on the US Senate Port Security Working Group, the Maritime Security Council, the US Marine Transportation System National Advisory Council, and the US Department of Homeland Security’s Area Maritime Security Committee for Southern Florida

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Ron Thomason: 954-567-4700

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