Ports and shipping lines must meet a July 1st deadline for compliance with the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code. The ISPS Code is a comprehensive, mandatory security regime for international shipping and port operations. To comply with the regulations, all ships will be subject to a verification and certification audit. This includes ship security assessments, ship[ security plans, ship security officers, company security officers and certain onboard equipment. For port faculties, the requirements include port facility assessments and plans, port facility security officers and certain security equipment. Both ships and port facilities must monitor and control access, monitor the activities of people and cargo, and assure that security communications are readily available.
After July 1st, all vessels must have the ISPS certification or they will not be allowed into any US port. According to the International Maritime Organization, which is overseeing the regulations, fewer than 20 percent of the world’s ships and 10 percent of global ports had certified that they have made the changes called for by the new rules. The agency says there are no provisions to grant extensions for countries or shipping companies that need more time. The penalty for those that don’t comply could be harsh: ranging from a ban on specific ships entering U.S. ports to an all-out trade embargo for a country whose ports don’t meet security standards. For more information on the ISPS code visit the International Maritime Organization website at: www.imo.org/home.asp.