JTIC briefing: maritime security clampdown forces compliance

By Jessica Sallabank

Although the vast majority of ships and ports worldwide had complied with strict new maritime security measures that came into force on 1 July, 'regional pockets' of non-compliance remain. 

New maritime security rules enacted by the IMO have forced nearly 90 per cent of declared ports and merchant ships to adopt tougher security measures. 

Christopher Ledger, a senior consultant with London-based Maritime and Underwater Security Consultants (MUSC), told JTIC that the new International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS) had provided a "wake-up call" for ports and commercial shipping. 

The strict ISPS regulations, developed in response to the perceived terrorist threat to the maritime industry following the 11 September attacks in the USA, came into force on 1 July this year for 147 signatory governments. They require ports, stevedoring companies and owners of ships larger than 500 tonnes to comply with a raft of new security rules. For ports, this includes installing CCTV cameras and perimeter fencing, as well as more secure documentation for employees and authorised visitors within the port vicinity. For ships, the code demands all participant vessels have a specially trained 'security officer' on board. 

The latest figures issued by the IMO affirmed that the vast majority of ships and ports worldwide had achieved full compliance by the 1 July deadline. On 28 July, the IMO confirmed that 89.5 per cent of more than 9,000 declared port facilities had had Port Security Plans (PFSP) approved and that more than 90 per cent of ships had been issued with IMO-approved security certificates. 

The possibility of ships refusing to dock at 'insecure ports' and ships without security clearance being refused entry to 'secured ports' had raised concerns about a disruption in maritime traffic and trade. 

The IMO's concerns were reinforced this month when a senior British naval officer warned that Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups could be plotting fresh attacks on merchant shipping. Admiral Alan West, the first Sea Lord, told Lloyd's List newspaper: "What we have noticed is that Al-Qaeda and other organisations have an awareness about maritime trade. They have realised how important it is for world trade in general [and] they understand that significance." ...cont. 

excerpt from Jane's Terrorism and Insurgency centre