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NZ Exporters Doing Their Bit

November 29, 2004

NZ Exporters Doing Their Bit To Meet New Maritime Legislation Requirements

Post 9/11 concerns over the vulnerability of ports, ships and other targets in the export supply chain give New Zealand's new maritime security legislation major relevance.

Despite new international programmes that have beefed up port and vessel security since the terrorist attacks on the US on September 11, 2001, American maritime security officials remain concerned that there are big gaps in the export supply chain and ports and ships remain exposed. One upshot of this is that there's an increasing obligation on all parties involved to meet stringent security requirements.

Gallagher Security Management Systems (GSMS), whose Cardax electronic access control, intruder alarms and PowerFence perimeter security systems are in use at thousands of sites around the world, is a major player in assisting ports and other key trade infrastructure organisations in New Zealand's export supply chain to meet the requirements of the new Maritime Security Bill now in effect. GSMS personnel are helping these organisations to put the necessary security measures in place.

To date, Cardax and PowerFence are securing the port companies of Auckland, Tauranga, Taranaki, Nelson, Dunedin and Bluff, and logistics companies such as Provincial Freightlines. GSMS is also in discussion with several major exporters to develop security specifications and solutions which can be integrated with other parts of their business.

GSMS general manager for sales Asia Pacific, Curtis Edgecombe, says there's a reasonable level of awareness of the requirement for increased supply chain security among New Zealand exporters.

"The Government has expended considerable effort in developing and deploying a supply chain security strategy for exporters," he says. "New Zealand ports have been active in increasing their security infrastructure – partly in response to the Maritime Security Bill that came into effect on July 1."

Edgecombe says this country's export manufacturers in general are still in the information-gathering and planning phase which leaves significant gaps in New Zealand's export supply chain security. He predicts exporters will inevitably have to act to mitigate security risks along the supply chain to ensure compliance with both domestic and international requirements.

"Increased supply chain security is being driven by both market requirements and international regulatory compliance. The sooner exporters put in place supply chain security initiatives the better prepared they'll be to address international market requirements in the future."

GSMS' flag-bearer product, Cardax FT, has been chosen by Fisher & Paykel, one of New Zealand's major exporters, to help secure its various Auckland sites which are spread over 12 or more hectares. Advanced Security Group Ltd., the Cardax dealer and system integrator responsible for the security arrangements at Fisher & Paykel, says most export companies have had to review their entire security processes as a result of the new maritime security legislation.

Group sales manager for Advanced Security Group, Charles Fraser, says for Fisher & Paykel it was relatively easy to put in place the security systems and processes required under the new legislation.

"Their main concerns were to ensure that sensitive or no-go areas within their sites were secure and that they could identify that they'd viewed the loading of containers onsite – especially those destined for America, one of their major markets," says Fraser.

"The Cardax FT system successfully addressed the issue of securing their premises against unauthorised persons while closed circuit television addressed the issue of viewing container-loading." Fraser says as security systems have become more and more network oriented, the security industry is now evolving as quickly as the computer and IT sectors.

"There's a real trend in New Zealand toward heightened surveillance – especially in the recording of events and the sharing of information between sites."

According to NZ Customs, organisations with vested interests in border security are generally playing their part in helping make this country's borders secure. It's in their interests to because the US authorities have threatened to turn away any ships from countries which do not meet their stringent new security requirements. Ships from departure points other than New Zealand have already been turned away from American ports.

NZ Customs acting national manager for goods, Paul Campbell, says New Zealand companies involved in the export supply chain are demonstrating a pleasing level of responsibility over meeting the requirements of the new maritime security legislation.

"Businesses have been pro-active – especially in meeting the need to move data electronically and accurately," he says. "We've had exceptional levels of support from shipping lines, airlines and others."

Campbell says US fears of terrorist threats to shipping, and of the resulting disruption to trade, are not exaggerated.

"Of course, the risk is very real. The level of the threat to international business is such our American trading partners have set a large number of (high) benchmarks in trade security. We need to keep in mind the level of tolerance of any threat to trade is, by necessity, low. A small event could have big consequences."

Campbell says the challenge for New Zealand businesses is they don't take for granted the traditional high quality, low risk basis of trade they've enjoyed with established trading partners in the past. "Everyone needs to be vigilant in these uncertain times," he adds.

As this country's busiest export port, the booming Port of Tauranga understands better than most the security expectations on ports to maintain New Zealand's reputation as a secure trading partner. Under the new maritime security regime, the port recently undertook a risk assessment and reviewed its control measures. One result of this was it installed Cardax FT as its on-site security system. Using fibre optic cable, the Cardax FT system resides on the port's Wide Area Network and requires every person to use a card to gain access. It accommodates some 4000 cardholders at the port, including outside contractors.

Port of Tauranga's manager of port security services, Mike Letica, says with more than 50 companies operating within the port's boundaries, and a constant flow of ships, vehicles, port personnel and contractors in and out of the port, effective security is essential.

"We have varying levels of security around the site ranging from the protection of cargo against tampering or sabotage to the smuggling of terrorists or terrorist-related goods," he says.

Letica says the Cardax FT system stood out from other systems and has enabled the port to achieve significant cost savings.

"It has allowed us to reduce the number of manned gates while still achieving the required verification of who is coming and going, as stipulated by the NZ Maritime Safety Authority."

Reuters reports that delegates at a recent US maritime security conference expressed concern that there are 'huge gaps in the long chain between the origin of goods and their final destination' and ports and ships remain 'ominously exposed'. Twenty-year US Coast Guard veteran Stephen Flynn told the conference Americans are living on borrowed time.

"We should not be lulled into a false sense of security by new security programmes," said Flynn. "The militants know they can get big bang for their bucks if they attack critical infrastructure."

The same conference heard that ports and ships present high-profile targets for militants who can exploit gaping security loopholes to inflict massive economic damage and civilian casualties. Maritime security officials pointed out it would only take once incident involving a single container to bring shipping to a halt in the US and cause billions of dollars in damage.

Special Adviser at Canada's Maritime Forces Pacific headquarters, James Boutilier, brought home to delegates the scale of the issues facing them.

"The gargantuan scale of the problem suggests that, at best, we will have to live with imperfection when it comes to combating maritime terrorism."


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