Safety Security & Sustainability

   Port Security


Port Security overview

About 90% of EU’s external trade and 40% of internal trade is transported by sea.  This corresponds to 3.5 billion tonnes of freight loaded and unloaded in EU ports each year[1]. While individual port security breaches may cause much damage in themselves, the disruption that such security incidents cause to the supply chains can also become very costly. Thus, port security remains of paramount importance for Europe both due to direct threats to life and property as well as the potential for crippling economic damage arising from the effects on the supply chains.


Ports also represent the intersection between supply chain security measures (e.g., the USA C-TPAT and CSI initiatives and the WCO SAFE Framework) and ship and port facility security measures (e.g., through the International Ship and Port Facility Security -ISPS Code[2] and EC Legislation 725/2004).  A specific challenge for ports is to integrate these types of measures into an integrated security approach.


Port Security, as a concept, is treated differently in different European flag states. In some countries, Port Security is provided by a combination of military and police forces. In other countries, it is a completely commercial arrangement where private enterprises hire private security companies to provide port security. In other words, there is no European-wide appreciation and handling of Port Security matters. There is no European Department of Homeland Security, which creates challenges and places a greater degree of responsibility on EU ports to make security part of their competitive strategy.  


Ports represent significant challenges when implementing new security measures. They cover large areas, they have very different and complex operations, they service large numbers of passengers and they   process large amounts of goods. Key challenges include:

·          not all ports have large resources

·          lack of international standards for training and security equipment create barriers to achieving high security levels

·          ports have implemented ISPS differently, therefore have different ‘baselines’ from which they have to start

·          ports have different problems internally, and face different threats externally


Port security solutions must satisfy all of the above constraints. Therefore, solutions extend beyond mere technology and include processes and other supporting structures within organisations.  Also iimportant are organisational and technological interfaces linking ports to border control authorities, the police and other intervention forces, as well as transport and logistics operators.


Although major players, mainly operating containers, have state of the art solutions there is still a need to:

1.     Upgrade risks and vulnerabilities assessments;

2.     Improve access control;

3.     Improve monitoring  and surveillance performance;

4.     Set standards for fencing, intrusion alarm and CCTV systems;

5.     Improve Inspecting and Securing of Cargo;

6.     Set up of guidelines for screening of personnel, improving  background checks and  profiling functions;

7.     Improve resilience;

Improve security training, awareness programs and management training.

[1] Maritime transport policy, Improving the competitiveness, safety and security of European shipping, October 2006.

[2] ISPS aims to “provide a consistent framework for evaluating risk, enabling Governments to offset changes in threat with changes in vulnerability for ships and port facilities through determination of appropriate security levels and corresponding security measures

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   Glossary Terms


AEO - EU Authorised Economic Operator
An AEO is defined as: “a party involved in the international movement of goods in whatever function that has been approved by or on behalf of a national Customs administration as complying with WCO or equivalent supply chain security standards. Authorised Economic Operators include inter alia manufacturers, importers, exporters, brokers, carriers, consolidators, intermediaries, ports, airports, terminal operators, integrated operators, warehouses and distributors”
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The International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code was adopted by IMO in December of 2002, and included in Chapter XI-2 of the Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS). The ISPS Code is a comprehensive set of mandatory measures to enhance the security of international shipping, port facilities and operations
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Port Facility
port area/location (comprising installations, equipment, buildings, warehouses, storage depots, company premises etc.) where interaction between vessel and port takes place and is designated by the competent authority as facility for the purposes of the ISPS code.
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Port facility security assessment (PFSA)
PFSA is a risk assessment to determine threats specific to a port facility and the surrounding waters and infrastructure
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Port Facility Security Officer (PFSO)
The PFSO is appointed by the organization operating a port facility and responsible for implementing and maintaining the PFSP
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Port Facility Security Plan (PFSP)
A plan containing the measures adopted to address the PFSA and the provisions of the ISPS Code at three scalable levels
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  Additional Information for Port Security
  High Tech Security Solutions
RFID Journal
Journal of Commerce
Risk Management
Security Journal
Port Technology International Journal
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   Linked Topics
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   Related Documents
  Supply Chain Security Guide
Port Security: Top Threats and Technology Trends
The Maritime Security Market 2010-2020: Piracy, Shipping & Seaports
The Customs Supply Chain Security Paradigm and 9/11: Ten Years On and Beyond
MATRA, the Multi Agency Threat and Risk Assessment
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   Lessons Learned
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   Information Sources
  RFID Journal -
European Union Joint Research Centre - Institute for the Protection and Security of the Citizen (IPSC)
The Maritime Security Market 2010-2020: Piracy, Shipping & Seaports
Port Operations Research and Technology Centre at Imperial College London
Rutgers Laboratory for Port Security
EUROPA Maritime security: Ship and port facility security
Port Technology International
Maritime Protective Services, Inc
Protecting passengers and goods transport in Europe
Port of London Security Strategy
Authorised Economic Operator (AEO)
World Bank Transport
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  White paper for transport 2011
Directives for Ports
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