Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Review of 4 May meeting


I apologize for the long delay between posts. We've been fairly quiet since our last meeting.

Our May 4 meeting was held here in Washington DC. We had a public meeting in the morning and in the afternoon, we closed the meeting to the public in order to facilitate a classified briefing on the Maritime Security Risk Analysis Model (MSRAM) and a general maritime threat briefing from the Coast Guard's Intelligence Coordination Center.

During the public meeting, we discussed a few items, including the NPRM to revise the eNOA/D rules. NMSAC expressed the need for the data collected through the eNOA/D process align with the CBP data collection requirements to minimize duplication.

The biggest part of the meeting was taken up with a follow on discussion from our last meeting in September concerning the issue of seafarer access to shore leave. The Continued concern of the committee is that they do not agree with the Coast Guard's legal position that the Coast Guard does not have the authority to force facilities to allow seafarers access to their facilities for the purposes of going on shore leave. Ms. Kathy Sinniger explained that the CG determined under the tight time frame of releasing the MTSA regulations, that forcing a facility to allow access to a seafarers came dangerously close to a "taking" of private property which, under legal precedent,would open the government up for just compensation to the facility. However, due to theTWIC regulations, and a stronger understanding of the impact of the MTSA regulations and the IMO resolutions regarding seafarer access, the Coast Guard legal folks are taking a look at the specifics to see if, in fact, this is a takings situation.

The Committee also issued the following resolution:

The National Maritime Security Advisory Committee (NMSAC),

Having received, a Task Statement from the United States Coast Guard in June, 2008, requesting NMSAC to examine and quantify the problem of seafarers’ access to shore leave and to provide comments by September 18, 2008,

Convened a Seafarers’ Access working group consisting of representatives that consisted of representatives from Seafarer’s Unions, Seafarer’s Welfare Organizations, Facility owner/operators, Facility Security Officers, and Shipowners Associations,
Having met on September 18, 2008 to discuss, among other items, the findings of the working group,

Recognizing that, several international instruments, listed in the working group’s report, affirm seafarers’ rights to shore leave, visitors, and representatives of seafarers' welfare and labour organizations,

Noting that, seafarers work and live on ships involved in domestic and international trade and that access to shore facilities and shore leave are vital elements of seafarers' general well-being and, therefore, to the realization of safer seas and cleaner oceans and the free flow of commerce,

Considering that, due to the global nature of the shipping industry, seafarers need special protection, and security needs must be balanced with the rights of seafarers, and

Noting that, the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS Code), requires that port facility plans address procedures for:
“facilitating shore leave for ship's personnel or personnel changes, as well as access of visitors to the ship including representatives of seafarers' welfare and labour organizations.”

Resolves that, the Coast Guard,
  1. enforce the obligation of port facilities under the ISPS Code, the Maritime Transportation Security Act, and the relevant provisions of Title 33 of the Code of Federal Regulations regarding seafarers’ access to shore leave, and access for visitors, representatives of seafarers welfare and labor organization;
  2. require each port facility to facilitate access for seafarers by requiring that every port facility security plan facilitate shore leave, crew changes, and access for visitors, in accordance with the ISPS Code and international instruments. Any costs for facilitating such access is a matter for the port facility; and,
  3. convene a high-level group consisting of representatives of the Department of Homeland Security, Department of State, Seafarer’s Unions, Seafarer’s Welfare Organizations, Facility owner/operators, Facility Security Officers, and Ship-owners Associations to address all related seafarer access issues.

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