Maritime security refers to the security offered to the shipping industry in a country. It refers to the measures taken by the government to ensure that the port, the employers, the employees as well as the equipments in the ports are well guarded from threats which face them. The ports face risks which may arise due to unlawful acts done on them or even on the persons stationed in them. Strategic planning to cub any uncertainty is thus essential for the well being of a nation and its citizens. The security of a country like the United States is dependent on the security of the world’s oceans.
There are different forms of threats which face the maritime security. To attain maritime security, it is thus vital to combine the efforts of both the public and private sectors globally. Maritime security may also be used to refer to the comprehensive security for the international shipping which started functioning on July 2004. It forms part of the IMO’s activities. This is a security practice code which is exercised in ports which is meant to compliment the international ships and the port equipments security.
The IMO/ILO code was implemented to offer security for the whole port area and was approved in March 2004. IMO is an acronym for international maritime organization while ILO refers to the international labor organization. IMO code of practice is not binding and should not replace the laws and regulations of a country. It does not affect the fundamental rights and principles of the workers as provided by the ILO document or the workers access to the ports or terminals and even the vessels. The IMO is thus used to provide guidance to member countries on how to deal with matters relating to security in the ports.
It also helps in identifying a government’s roles and responsibilities as well as for those of the employers and their employees (Pugh, 1994). The main objective of the formation of the code of practice relating to security on the ports was to enable all the stakeholders including the government minimize the risks which may be incurred by the port due to unlawful acts in the port. It was also intended to provide a common basis of approach to security on ports amongst affiliated states. This code also sought to extend the area covered by port security to include the whole port.
Threats and measures used to combat maritime security Maritime insecurity has been on the rise for the past few years with terrorists using this domain to attack most countries. This has called for strict measures to ensure such attacks are reduced or eliminated. For maritime security to be attained, a number of plans have to be put in place to address the different forms of maritime security. These plans form the basic requirements for successful attaining of maritime security. One of the plans which are vital is a national plan to create and achieve Maritime’s domain awareness.
After creating a national awareness, a global integration of intelligence is important and hence its plan. A single country may not be in a position to fight and lead to maritime security thus the need to cooperate with other countries. Other plans are the maritime infrastructure plan and the maritime security plans. The security plans includes the transportation plan, the commerce plan and the facilities plan. Before the formulation of these plans, the country needs to understand the threats which maritime environment faces (Hawkes, 1989).
For a country to formulate the measures it has to take to attain maritime security, it needs to evaluate the threats the oceans are exposed to which in turn affect the countries stability. Different countries have adopted different measures to ensure that their ports are safe. The most common threats that face the oceans include the threat to the maritime security itself. Today’s maritime environment is marked by complexity and ambiguity thus making it difficult to maintain and protect it. This is more pronounced in the maritime environment.
This is enhanced by the operations carried out at the sea which exposes the countries to acts of terrorism. These kinds of attack are more dangerous and pure military actions may not be effective in fighting them. They thus require other measures and the countries exposed to such threats must device ways to combat them. Advancement in telecommunications and the expansion of the international and commercial logistics have led to an increase in the range and also the effects which arise due to the terrorist attacks. They have made it possible to enter even the borders considered to be most secure with great speed and for greater distances.
Terrorists take advantage of such capabilities and cause great damage globally and also in the political and economic environment (Higgie, 2005). Maritime domain could also be used to export illegal goods to other countries thus posing a threat to the other country. Strict measures are thus required to cub this and to ensure that all transported goods are of high standards and are not harmful to the citizens in a country. Terrorism acts are rampant in the maritime domain. Fighting these threats is becoming more difficult since different terrorist groups from different countries have joined together due to the improved telecommunications.
They also operate under the shadows thus making it hard to fight them. Cooperation amongst the member states is required to maintain maritime security. The increasing international trade through the maritime domain has also led to increased maritime related criminal activities. Such activities include smuggling of drugs and weapons to or out of a country. People smuggling has also been on the rise in the maritime domain especially in areas characterized by heavy commercial seas activities. In countries with unstable political environment, this is more rampant.
Illegal immigration through the sea has been rampant in the recent past thus posing a major threat to maritime security and also to the economic and political stability of a country (Pugh, 1994). The main objective for the countries faced by these maritime threats is to eliminate or reduce the activities which pose these threats. One of the major steps towards preventing the terrorist attacks and other criminal and unlawful acts is through monitoring and controlling or patrolling the maritime borders. High seas areas which are of national interest should be safeguarded.
Detecting and stopping criminal activities before they are committed is the main aim of the countries exposed to maritime threats. To be effective in detecting the threats to maritime security, the country has to be aware of the threat and have detective capabilities. Such knowledge helps in deterring and also defeating adversaries early enough before much damage have been caused (Higgie, 2005). Another objective of a country in cubing maritime insecurity is by protecting the critical maritime infrastructure and also the related population centers.
All the main and important infrastructures both physical and network operations should be guarded by military facilities for security purposes. Population should also be controlled so as to make it difficult for people to collect information which could be used in committing criminal maritime acts. Overcrowding in the ports makes it easier for illegal immigration and smuggling of goods and people. The responsibility of protecting these infrastructures should be taken up by both the private and public sectors. A country should also work towards minimizing the damages which may arise in the maritime domain.
Safeguarding the maritime domain and their resources from exploitation is another aim of a country (Pugh, 1994). For a country to attain maritime security, there are a number of things or requirement that it has to meet. There are no international standards which have been set to control, regulate or maintain maritime security and thus a country has to set its own standards and work towards maintaining maritime securities. However, as mentioned earlier the international maritime organization has set guidelines which a country may apply in dealing with maritime related issues.
Attaining maritime security is a continuous activity especially with the emergence of different activities which are posing threats to maritime security. International cooperation and coordination is vital in achieving maritime security. Information sharing and also intelligence assistance are also vital in effective elimination of maritime insecurity. Public and private sectors should also work in cooperation to attain and secure maritime security (Hawkes, 1989). The minimum requirement is the acquiring of an identification card of maritime security.
This card shows that the holder has been checked from his background and thus can work in the port unescorted. This card covers the seafarers and the persons working or who supply oil and gas facilities offshore. This card mainly operates in the Australian waters. For one to qualify to be given unmonitored access to the maritime security zone, one should not have an adverse criminal record and should be a citizen. If he is not a citizen, he must have a right to work in the country. Automatic identification systems are also a requirement in maritime security.
These systems are supposed to be installed on commercial vessels which are on international voyage. This may include vessels used in fishing and even passenger vessels which are over 65’ in length (Office of the Press Secretary, 2003). Prescreening cargo before lading is also another requirement for attaining maritime security. All international cargos should be examined before they are allowed into a country to ascertain their safety and to eliminate possibilities of threats. Procedures to enforce action against a cargo suspected to be carrying illegal commodities or terrorists into or out of a country should be formulated.
These procedures should be implemented and enforced to reduce the possibility of a repeat of the same action. Seizing cargo procedures should also be implemented and streamlined for easier confiscation of the goods or persons (Bahar, 2007). One of the vital requirements in achieving maritime security is by enhancing international cooperation amongst the member states. The oceans cover more than two thirds of the earth’s surface. As such, no single country can achieve maritime security on its own. Cooperation with other countries is thus a vital tool in achieving maritime security.
Countries which are interested in attaining maritime security and are willing to fight terrorism and other maritime crime come together to device ways to combat these crimes. These countries should seek to understand the threats and prioritize them according to there urgency. Unified actions and plans are then implemented to reduce maritime insecurity (Hawkes, 1989). To enhance this cooperation, the nations should endeavor to standardize international security to ensure that all the goods and people going to a country through the maritime domain are not a threat to the citizens that country.
The use of automated systems should be implemented to register maritime vessels, their ownership and also their operations. The crew operating them should also be registered as well as the cargo being transported to enhance transparency. The member states should also develop a mutual fund ensure effective and efficient implementation of measures to interdict criminals before the damages are done. The means of rapid exchanges amongst the government and intelligence agencies should also be enforced by the law and suspected criminals should be persecuted.
Streamlined procedures should also be adopted to verify vessels nationality so as to take appropriate enforcement measures on time (Bahar, 2007). Another requirement for maritime security is the foreign vessel security plans. This requirement has a provision that members of SOLAS are not required to produce their security plans to coast guards for their vessels to be approved. However, those who are not affiliated to this group of SOLAS have to produce their security plans before being allowed to enter into a country. Their security plan should also comply with the measures which are stipulated in the trade agreement.
SOLAS is an acronym for safety of life at seas. A vessel not complying with these requirements is denied entrance to a country. This is in operation in the united stated (Office of the Press Secretary, 2003). Vessel security plans is also another requirement for ensuring maritime security. All vessels are required to have security plans before being allowed to move in the American waters. This requirement however exempts vessels which carry less than one hundred and fifty passengers without considering the number of overnight passengers in the vessel.
Other vessels exempted in this provision are the drilling units which are non self propelling and are operated offshore. Industrial vessels like the dredges are also exempted from the security plans provision for vessels. Facilities are supposed to come up with their individual plans for security. Exempted in this requirement are facilities which only service the passenger vessels but whose vessels do not carry passengers. Others are the public access facilities which are purely used for recreation and retail purposes by the public. Vessels which the public uses for entertainment and tourist purposes are also exempted.
The owners and the operators of these exempted facilities are held responsible and are supposed to implement necessary security measures. These measures are supposed to comply with the area security plan (Office of the Press Secretary, 2003). These requirements are made possible and viable by offering assistance and training to the maritime security operators. Economic assistance is also vital in ensuring that maritime security among the nations is attained. Another way that the governments have done to ensure maritime security is maintained is by expanding the international port and maritime security officer programs.
This ensures that the diverse threats posed by unlawful acts are minimized and awareness is created. The number of agency attaches has also been increased (Pugh, 1994). Deploying layered security is also another requirement for ensuring that maritime security is achieved and maintained. A system of layered security ensures that the capabilities of the member governments and those of commercial interests are integrated globally. Both the public and the private sectors can help in controlling terrorism activities if they could act in concert.
These two sectors may use diverse though complementary measures to eliminate the criminal acts instead of relying on the government alone. A layered approach is not a static approach but keeps on being improved. These changes serve to create uncertainty thus reducing the possibility of terrorist attacks. This approach is mainly used in the most vulnerable areas like the marine transportation sector, passenger and cargo ferrying, staff and also in conveyances. It is also effective in ports and also the route of transportation (Bahar, 2007).
Maximizing domain awareness is a vital tool in eliminating threats and maintaining peace and security in the maritime environment. Understanding the trends and all the events in a domain helps to predict likely events and also the possible threats facing a certain domain. Prior knowledge of the threats is important for securing the security of a maritime domain and also helps in reducing detrimental events. In trying to gain knowledge of the possible threats, the government and all the stakeholders should aim at trying to understand who their enemies are and their capabilities and also their goals.
Factors influencing their behavior and also their organizational structure should be analyzed. A vital area is learning the adversary’s weak points and also the centers of their gravity. This knowledge is used in planning the course of action and also in deciding and prioritizing the allocation of resources. Awareness of maritime domain thus helps in earlier identification of threats and thus prompts appropriate actions to be taken to prevent such attacks (Higgie, 2005). Conclusion Maritime security as discussed above is not only vital to the seas environment but also affects the whole country and the world in general.
No single country is immune to maritime threats and as such, all the countries should work together to attain maritime security. Creating awareness may be costly but should be advocated for to ensure that terrorist attacks and other criminal and hostile acts are recognized and deterred. Stern measures should be undertaken by the international body concerned with maritime security on countries that collude or allow terrorist to operate from their waters. Those convicted of violating maritime security should be persecuted and heavy punishment imposed so as to deter others from engaging in similar acts.
However, while dealing with matters relating to maritime security, extra care should be taken. Damages caused by criminal acts via maritime domain may be devastating thus caution should be exercised. The countries should also strive at protecting the maritime domain from exploitation so as to preserve the ecosystem of the country as well as that of the aquatic life.
Bahar M. (2007): Attaining Optimal Deterrence at Sea: A Legal and Strategic Theory for Naval Anti-Piracy Operations Journal article of Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, Vol. 40 Hawkes K. G.
(1989): Maritime Security. ISBN 087033395X. Published by Cornell Maritime Press Higgie D. (2005): Combating Terrorism: Dell Higgie Surveys the International Counter-Terrorism Scene. Journal article of New Zealand International Review, Vol. 30 Office of the Press Secretary. (2003): Fact Sheet: Maritime Security Requirements. Retrieved on 10th December 2008 from, http://www. dhs. gov/xnews/releases/press_release_0282. shtm. Pugh M. C. (1994): Maritime Security and Peacekeeping: A Framework for United Nations Operations. ISBN 0719045630. Published by Manchester University Press