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IMO Launches Two New Courses

The International Maritime Organization has introduced two new courses, on Passenger and Baggage Screening and Searching (PBSS) and the Whole of Government Approach to Maritime Security, to countries signatory to IMO’s International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) 1974 and the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code Chapter XI–2.

PAX and Baggage Screening and Searching

The PBSS course that targets security staff, security supervisors and Port Facility Security Officers in cruise and/or ferry port facilities within Member States. It will also involve Designated Authority officials of the target country for familiarization reasons. Although it will be classroom based, a screening checkpoint tour at a port facility has been factored into the course syllabus. Mr. Andrew Clarke, IMO’s senior security professional and course lead cites that Member States who show interest in advances screening and search course will be considered where the latter will involve practical training on effective screening for prohibited items, effective hand search and X-ray machines and Walk-Through metal detectors testing. “The advanced training, which is still a concept, will also involve providing the port facility with test pieces to test the equipment,” he says.

A Whole of Government Approach to Maritime Security

While considerable attention and resources has been given towards security on land, similar efforts to secure Member States maritime domain have not been given the due attention, mainly owing to maritime wealth blindness. In order to prioritize maritime security to regional governments, maritime administrations, government departments and agencies within Member States need to collaborate in what the Jeddah Amendment to the Djibouti Code of Conduct recommends as a multi-agency, whole-of-government approach to maritime security, at national level, which will result in the increased awareness of the Maritime Domain, proper understanding of what happens at sea (thereby reducing maritime wealth blindness) and appropriate response capacity in the face of threats. These entities within Member States hold different yet crucial maritime security obligations and as a result, the International Maritime Organization has received requests from member States, as a matter of priority, to meet their maritime security obligations in line with the ISPS Code.

Through the Whole of Government Approach to Maritime Security, countries will produce a National Maritime Security Strategy (NMSS), establish National Maritime Security Committee Structure (NMSC), and develop a National Maritime Risk Register (NMRR). The Strategy (NMSS) is a High-level policy framework and shared vision ​for securing each Member State’s maritime domain, ​including ports and territorial waters.​

National Strategy development starts by convening a meeting of Senior Officials in Government departments and agencies with recognized maritime security responsibilities, who will form a Committee (NMSC). Membership of the Committee should include, but not limited to, multiple government departments and agencies that encompass diverse areas such as fisheries protection, offshore energy platform security and the security of commercial shipping import and port facilities.

According to Section 5 of the IMO Guide to Maritime Security and the ISPS Code 2012 Edition, a risk assessment to identify and assess the national maritime security risks faced by any member state will be collated into a risk register (NMRR) and included in the Strategy. These national level risks will be expected to underpin the current and future maritime security policies outlined in the Strategy. Successful mitigation of the specified risks will only be possible if the lead maritime administrations involve other government agencies and departments who provide support or play a complimentary role.

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