MIASF members question application of anti-terrorism laws

PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The deadline is looming for those marine businesses along Florida's coast that fall under new anti-terrorism regulations in the Maritime Transportation Security Act, the Palm Beach Post reported in an article this morning.

The problem, however, is that there remain questions about which businesses fall under the requirement to submit security plans to the Coast Guard by the end of the year, the newspaper stated.

Some marine businesses may not even be aware that the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 applies to their company, the Post reported.

The Department of Homeland Security approved the final rules of the act last month. The new rules, which call for security patrols, establishing restricted areas, tighter identification procedures for employees, access control measures and installation of surveillance equipment, need to be completed by July 1, according to the newspaper.

The act requires that ports and marinas that handle explosives, transfer oil or hazardous materials, have passenger vessels dropping off or leaving with 150 or more passengers or handle cargo vessels greater than 100 gross register tons must submit plans for new security, the Post stated.

Frank Herhold, executive director of the Marine Industries Association of South Florida (MIASF), which represents 800 marine businesses in total, and 50 in Palm Beach County alone, told the Post that the organization is still trying to understand which regulations apply to which of its members.

Herhold explained to the newspaper that a committee of a half-dozen people is developing a template security program that could apply to a large number of marine businesses to make compliance easier.

According to Herhold, the task to meet security measures is difficult because of the short notice by the Coast Guard. But he also told the newspaper that the Coast Guard has been helpful to the association.

Herhold said that he doesn’t know what the final figures for MIASF members will be, but he did state that they will be high.

Although he told the Post that MIASF is "solidly behind homeland security," Herhold also stated that the rules lead him to wonder about the future of marine security.

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