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Story Highlights

  • Minister of National Security, Hon. Robert Montague, says there needs to be increased cooperation between Jamaica and the United States (US), in order to improve the maritime and port security environment.
  • Other Ministry led initiatives include: improving the capacity of port screeners to screen for, detect and identity firearm and component parts; and maintaining oversight for security systems that protect port environments.
  • The Seminar was held under the theme: ‘Charting the Road Ahead - Responding to an Evolving Maritime/Port Security Environment’.

Minister of National Security, Hon. Robert Montague, says there needs to be increased cooperation between Jamaica and the United States (US), in order to improve the maritime and port security environment.

Speaking at a Port Security Seminar, held at the Colin Powell Plaza on Constant Spring Road, on June 1, the Minister said this is necessary to improve economic growth and exploit the enormous possibilities which exist for expanding maritime trade.

Mr. Montague said Jamaica is cognizant of its vulnerability to various threats that originate from the international environment and that the countermeasures which are relevant, will require the strengthening of efforts between the relevant maritime and port entities of both countries.

“The Ministry of National Security has directly taken the lead on several initiatives to promote port and maritime security, thereby ensuring adequate presence and requisite deployment of maritime law enforcement bodies that fall under the remit of the Ministry,” he noted.

These law enforcement bodies include the Jamaica Defence Force (JCF) Coast Guard, the Marine Police and the Immigration Officers who, collectively, secure the nation against narcotics trafficking, illicit trafficking in firearms, threats to port security, piracy, immigration violations and poaching of marine produce, such as conch and lobster.

Other Ministry led initiatives include: improving the capacity of port screeners to screen for, detect and identity firearm and component parts; and maintaining oversight for security systems that protect port environments.

Amendments to the Maritime Drug Trafficking Suppression Act, which seek to further reduce maritime drug trafficking, were also passed in both Houses of Parliament.

“We can all agree that more needs to be done by Government to provide  greater funding to the operational entities, but there is no doubt that their efforts over the years have been heroic, given the resources available to them, and deserves our respect and commendations,” Mr. Montague said.

For his part, United States Ambassador to Jamaica, Luis G. Moreno,  said the US is Jamaica’s largest trading partner, and it is in his country’s national interest to ensure that trade is safe, secure and legal.

“This is why we are proud to support the 2016 Port Security Workshop. We will work together to tackle the issues of security and discuss best practices in global supply chain security and maritime security legislation,” Mr. Moreno said.

The Ambassador’s message was read by Counsellor for Political and Economic Affairs at the United States Embassy, Cleveland Charles.

Mr. Moreno said that as the expanded Panama Canal comes on line, Jamaica is uniquely positioned to play a transhipment role, not just for the Caribbean but for the entire eastern part of the hemisphere.

“To make this a reality, we need a strong partnership across institutions and across borders. Port security is challenging. The combination of best practices, political will and principled implementation from both of our countries will be a force that criminals and terrorists will have to contend with. Protecting our ports is not one man’s fight, but should be of concern to everyone here today,” he said.

The Seminar was held under the theme: ‘Charting the Road Ahead – Responding to an Evolving Maritime/Port Security Environment’.