JIS News

Governments in the region are intensifying their efforts to promote safety and security in the maritime sector with a view to protecting the region’s ports from possible acts of terrorism.
Minister of Transport and Works, Robert Pickersgill told JIS News, that governments attending the Sixth Ministerial Meeting of the Western Hemisphere Transportation Initiative (WHTI) held recently in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, had pointed to the need for increased vigilance following the events of September 11, 2001 and to seek to strengthen cooperation with respect to maritime port security as a matter of priority.
“It is not only in cargo”, he said explaining that the threat of terrorism was not only restricted to the involvement of cargo ships “but the whole cruise shipping industry is also at risk. Although approximately 95 per cent of the cargo trade is done by ships, we in the Caribbean carry about 60 per cent of the cruise ship passengers and therefore have to be just as careful with that as we are with cargo.” Considering the importance of cruise shipping to many countries in the Americas, Minister Pickersgill pointed out that a single incident of terrorism at any one of the region’s ports could adversely affect the tourism sector in the hemisphere.
Minister Pickersgill is of the view however, that “regional cooperation is of the utmost importance” in protecting the ports.
The Transport Minister, in his presentation to the conference entitled: ‘Promoting Transport in Favour of the Quality of Life’, underscored the importance of information sharing and “closing the capacity and knowledge gaps between the more developed and less developed states of the hemisphere.” This, he cited as not only urgent, but critical.
Minister Pickersgill emphasised that the “sharing of maritime security information and even intelligence between our respective ports and our marine administrations is a most desirable objective.”
“We already have an excellent harmonised system of Port State Control (PSC) arrangements called PSC MOUs (Memorandum of Understanding) in place to keep sub-standard ships away from our maritime and port areas and these agreements provide what is described as a systematic exchange of data among the member States of those participating in the MOU,” he outlined.
Citing examples, the Minister pointed to the Caribbean MOU on Port State Control, which the countries in the CARICOM sub region ascribe to, the Vi