The Coalition for Secure Ports today welcomed several new members representing various sectors of the maritime and cargo transportation industry. The Coalition was formed earlier this year to educate policymakers and the public on the significant steps that have been taken to improve port and cargo chain security since the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The group advocates for a unified approach including shippers, importers, intermediaries, brokers, ocean carriers, ports and terminals, land- based transporters and, most important, the U.S. government, that will result in implementing further pragmatic and effective improvements to the country's maritime security system. New Coalition members include the American Institute for International Steel, the Columbia River Steamship Operators Association, the Consuming Industries Trade Action Coalition, the National Association of Maritime Organizations, the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, and the Port of Tacoma.
"We welcome our new members. Each new member will enhance our ability to provide important expertise that will help the government identify optimal next steps toward improving our country's port and cargo security," said Tay Yoshitani, Senior Advisor to the Coalition for Secure Ports. "By bringing together a broad group of stakeholders who are directly involved in the cargo supply chain on a day-to-day basis, the Coalition, through its education efforts, can help policymakers understand all the facts as they build on past progress and debate the next steps in enhancing port and cargo security.
"The maritime industry contributes more than one trillion dollars to our country's annual GDP, and yet only 10 percent of the Transportation Security Administration's annual budget is allocated to maritime security," Yoshitani continued. "Ports, vessels and the entire cargo supply chain could hardly be more vital to the continued strength of our nation's economy. The work needed to further augment our nation's maritime security system must be a front burner issue."
The Coalition seeks to identify actions that the government, in cooperation with private sector stakeholders, can take to further strengthen port security while underlining the considerable progress that has already been made.
"It is important to remember that a great deal of work has been done since 9/11 to enhance the security of our nation's ports, and, as Department of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge recently observed, 'We're safer today than we were before 9/11.' We have already made a very good start by implementing international and domestic maritime security regulations for port and vessel security, but we must continue to build on this foundation," said Yoshitani.
The Coalition advocates three central approaches to improving maritime security:
* Earlier, better and more complete cargo shipment data, which means collecting advance loading information on container shipments from shippers and importers overseas prior to loading on vessels;
* Further enhancing the security of the containers themselves by implementing requirements obligating the party that stuffs a container to seal it immediately after secure stuffing takes place, and also by setting defined international standards for the use of high security seals on all containerized shipments;