Magazine article Security Management

Ports Vow to Run a Tight Ship. (News and Trends)

Magazine article Security Management

Ports Vow to Run a Tight Ship. (News and Trends)

Article excerpt

Since 9-11, Congress has had a consistent message for those who guard U.S. ports: shape up or ship out. Recently some of those at the leading edge of this effort assembled to brief the Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Technology, Terrorism, and Government Information on problems and promise. One common theme was the need to extend U.S. national borders to foreign ports; that is, to focus much of the security effort on controlling shipments from overseas.

Bonni G. Tischler, assistant commissioner at the office of field operations for the U.S. Customs Service, outlined key points of the Container Security Initiative that involve international components. In part, she testified, the initiative which Customs proposed in January, calls for establishing international security criteria for identifying high-risk cargo containers and prescreening these containers at their point of shipment overseas.

But reaching across international borders can court trouble, one expert told Congress. Charles Up-church, president and CEO of SGS Global Trade Solutions, Inc., cautioned that extending security's reach overseas would be expensive, take a long time to implement due to negotiation of bilateral agreements, and possibly hinder trade by requiring changes to current trade processes.

Kim Petersen, the executive director of the Maritime Security Council, testified that a program similar to the Federal Aviation Administration's foreign airport security assessment program should be developed to identify ports that fail to meet minimum security standards as established by the United Nations' International Maritime Organization. Specifically, he advocated that "every port of origin with ships bound for a U.S. destination should be audited at least once every three years, with noncompliant ports being audited annually until they achieve compliance."

Foreign ports are generally willing to do their part, Petersen told Security Management, but what's hindering them is a "total absence of direction with respect to a single standard. …

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