National Maritime Security Advisory Committee Meeting – Part 2

National Maritime Security Advisory Committee Meeting — Part 2  
The National Maritime Security Advisory Committee (NMSAC) wrapped up its January meeting this morning, after briefings on (1) attempts to harmonize maritime security regulations and operations with Canada, (2) the progress of the Cargo Security Risk Reduction Workgroup, and (3) efforts to harmonize the requirements of the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) and the Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA) and its regulations. Although the Agenda called for briefs by NMSAC subcommittees, none were given—possibly because NMSAC abolished the subcommittees yesterday. Thereafter, the Committee passed a resolution recommending that eligibility for Port Security Grants be extended to counter-piracy measures on US-flag vessels and then adjourned.
Maritime Security Harmonization with Canada
Captain Kevin Keifer of the Office of Port and Facility Activities at Coast Guard Headquarters briefed NMSAC on the work of the USCG/Transport Canada Compliance and Enforcement Working Group (CEWG). This Group works to harmonize not only the regulations affecting maritime transportation security issued by both countries, but also to facilitate intelligence sharing and operational coordination. This includes links between America’s Waterway Watch and its Canadian equivalent, as well as cooperation on small vessel identification. As an example the overall process, the two countries worked together closely on maritime security for the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. One issue of concern is that the countries have different definitions for Certain Dangerous Cargoes (CDCs). CAPT Keifer also touched on the two countries’ assistance in the ongoing development of the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO’s) Maritime Security Manual. This Manual is being designed as a single-source reference tool for maritime transportation security, containing IMO resolutions and circulars and other sources of good maritime security practices. It will inform the various stakeholders (government agencies, vessels, and facilities) where to look, rather than providing its own detailed standards. Representatives from Canada and the US have worked on this project, along with others from IMO, Australia, the European Community, and the UK. Canada and the US are serving as Co-Chairs of the Correspondence Group that will fine tune the draft manual for consideration by IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee in May. During the Q&A, CAPT Keifer indicated that the Coast Guard also cooperated on maritime security with the Mexican government, but not as closely as with the Canadians. He also reported that both sides felt that it would be a more effective use of their scarce resources to push them out along the international threat axis. One way to do this is by reducing the resources employed along the US-Canada border through sharing responsibility there. As a result, the possibility of customs officials of each country being able to clear shipments into the other country is being discussed. There are, of course, the usual Canadian sensitivities regarding the American colossus, but CAPT Keifer thought this shared customs responsibility would be realized in the not-too-distant future. 
Cargo Security Risk Reduction Workgroup
Lieutenant Commander Kevin Reid, also of the Office of Port and Facility Activities, then briefed NMSAC on efforts to improve the security of CDCs moving through the maritime transportation system. The somewhat misleadingly named (IMHO, because it dealt solely with CDCs) Cargo Security Symposium, held in September 2009, had led the formation, late that year, of the Cargo Security Workgroup, with government and industry representatives. Members of the group had largely achieved consensus on a number of concerns through issue papers that have been folded into an internal Coast Guard report, now under final review by group members and due at the end of this month. These issues included: Defining Key Maritime Areas; the Coast Guard’s programmatic management of CDC security; CDC vessel tracking; identifying any other cargoes of concern (and whether any chemicals could be dropped from the CDC list); identifying the role of private security; and suggestions for changes to the Maritime Transportation Security Act and its regulations. Outreach to industry had been ongoing since the Symposium and would continue. Future events for outreach to stakeholder include: Stakeholder Listening Sessions (in Houston and St. Louis this spring), the Joint Harbor Safety and Area Maritime Security Committee Conference (in Houston in June), and the Chemical Sector Security Summit (in Baltimore in July). In response to a question, LCDR Reid confirmed that the subject matter was CDCs carried in bulk (the current regulatory definition of CDCs). A NMSAC member chimed in to remind the Coast Guard that at at least one outreach event, industry had been almost unanimous in rejecting the Coast Guard’s suggestion of a role for private security. CAPT Kiefer replied that Coast Guard was employing a “holistic” (a word he used several times) approach to protect all CDCs, or all high-risk CDCs, in the maritime transportation system and that the private stakeholders shared in the responsibility for security, just as a bank teller has some responsibility to safeguard the cash in his/her till. The NMSAC member agreed there was consensus on all of the other discussion items, but opined that the Coast Guard should expect a big push back from industry on any private security role. LCDR Reid responded that the “big takeaway” should be that the presence of CDCs in maritime areas leads to the need to look at all the items on the list. He projected the way ahead as: Submitting the report; assembling the strategy-development team; producing a draft strategy and implementation plan; conducting outreach to stakeholders; and finalizing the strategy. The existing efforts of the Workgroup would form the basis of the Coast Guard response to Section 812 of the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010, which requires a national study on CDC security in the maritime transportation system, a report to Congress, and a national strategy (six months later). Comments and questions from NMSAC members and the public included: A concern over the possibility that a new CDC security program would be established (that would compete for resources with existing programs) instead of simply layering additional requirements onto the existing baseline security programs; wonder whether the strategy would address resources; and an expression of the plight of the mariner involved in coordination of multiple handovers of security escorting responsibility as a vessel passes through several local jurisdictions on the way from sea to terminal. The responses were along the lines of: The strategy would call for a “certain level of cooperation” from non-USCG agencies, including local law enforcement, in the vein of we (the Coast Guard) can handle only so much, can you help? The idea is to provide guidance and a risk-based decision-making tool, rather than levy additional security force requirements. A lot of planning will have to occur before we get to the tactical level. “Tactically, it would be smart to have the whole regime laid out, but we’re only at the level of strategy.” 
Harmonization of CFATS and MTSA Requirements
Fresh from his star turn on TWIC issues yesterday, Commander David Murk returned to brief the Committee on efforts to harmonize requirements of the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) and the Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA) and its regulations. Currently, all facilities regulated under MTSA are exempt from CFATS. All other facilities that meet thresholds for “chemicals of interest” are subject to CFATS, resulting in similar facilities dealing with the same chemicals being regulated differently. A working group is examining the overlaps and differences. The group’s charge includes examining: (1) Whether there are differences significant enough to cause an undue risk at facilities covered by the lower requirements or to create an unbalanced playing field from a business perspective; (2) whether there are security implications in having two different approaches to risk assessment; (3) how can intelligence and regulatory information sharing be improved; and (4) where is there a need for joint direction. Thus far, the group has produced an Action Memo with a regulatory comparison identifying gaps and differences and a Recommendation to consider creation of regional structures for CFATS similar to MTSA’s Area Maritime Security Committees. At present, there have been no decisions on regulatory changes, merely identification of items that need to be looked at. The goal is to have similar facilities not treated differently in terms of either risk or protection. As what the end result of the working group’s labors would be, CDR Murk replied that it would depend on this issue—either a legislative or a regulatory change might be necessary. One issue that had come up was the CFATS “Top Screen” requirement, a sort of on-line questionnaire completed by chemical facilities. These facilities are then classified into tiers, on the basis their Top Screen input, according to which chemicals they deal with and in what amounts. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) wants a centralized data base on chemicals. Agreement has been reached within DHS to go forward with a rulemaking to require applicable MTSA-regulated facilities to submit Top Screen inputs. The MTSA regulations would use the list identifying affected facilities that is in a CFATS appendix. MTSA-regulated facilities classified as CFATS Tier IV (not required to have a CFATS security plan) would still be required to have a MTSA Facility Security Plan. A NMSAC member expressed concern that harmonization with CFATS would detract from MTSA’s maritime focus—MTSA met the international requirement to comply with the ISPS Code, but CFATS came from a different impetus. CDR Murk responded that the Coast Guard had opposed legislation that would exempt maritime CFATS facilities from regulation under MTSA. 
NMSAC Resolutions
NMSAC took no action on an earlier Coast Guard tasking to the Committee to comment on several items, after the Chair indicated it had been overtaken by events. The Committee then turned to a resolution to recommend that eligibility for Port Security Grants be extended to US-flag vessels for hardening themselves against piracy. After discussion, various amendments were made so that US-flag vessels would be eligible for Port Security Grants or other grant money, to be awarded on the basis of demonstrated risk and to be “used for vessel-related counter-piracy measures.” A further recommendation was that “DHS work with NMSAC to develop the guidelines for grant application and allocation.” The amended resolution passed 8-1, with the dissenter opposed to adding another element to an already underfunded program.
After the Chair indicated that the next NMSAC meeting would be sometime during the first two weeks of April in the DC area, the Committee voted to adjourn.
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By Professional Mariner Staff