Maritime security revamp sets sail for the legislature

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 11 March, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 11 March, 2004, 12:00am

A new law on maritime security will be introduced to the Legislative Council later this month in response to the International Ship and Port Facility (ISPS) code laid down by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), the seaborne trade's de facto governing body.

The Merchant Shipping (Security of Ships and Port Facilities) Bill will be gazetted tomorrow and taken to Legco on March 24, according to a government statement yesterday.

The measures - which include training security officers and the formulation of emergency procedures for terminals and each ship that enters port - are being driven by Washington as it tries to keep the world's trade lanes from being used for acts of terrorism.

The government is obliged, via domestic legislation, to give effect to the new maritime security provisions under the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea and ISPS, which have a binding effect on Hong Kong, a spokesman for the Economic Development and Labour Bureau said.

'Failure to legislate in Hong Kong will not only project a negative image of Hong Kong and breach the international obligations but also cause serious adverse effect on the commercial operations of the shipping and port industries ... as Hong Kong may be perceived as a weak link in ensuring the security of the supply chain,' he said.

The IMO requires shipowners and port operators to be compliant with the ISPS code by July 1.

No price has been put on landside costs.

But ship registries have estimated it will cost shipowners US$15,000 to $20,000 per vessel, and double that for tanker ships.