Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002

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The Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 (MTSA) (Pub.L. 107–295) is an Act of Congress enacted by the 107th United States Congress to address port and waterway security. It was signed into law by President George W. Bush on November 25, 2002.

This law is the U.S. implementation of the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS). Its full provisions came into effect on July 1, 2004. It requires vessels and port facilities to conduct vulnerability assessments and develop security plans that may include passenger, vehicle and baggage screening procedures; security patrols; establishing restricted areas; personnel identification procedures; access control measures; and/or installation of surveillance equipment. The Act creates a consistent security program for all the nation’s ports to better identify and deter threats.

Developed using risk-based methodology, the MTSA security regulations focus on those sectors of maritime industry that have a higher risk of involvement in a transportation security incident, including various tank vessels, barges, large passenger vessels, cargo vessels, towing vessels, offshore oil and gas platforms, and port facilities that handle certain kinds of dangerous cargo or service the vessels listed above.

MTSA also required the establishment committees in all the nation’s ports to coordinate the activities of all port stakeholders, including other federal, local and state agencies, industry and the boating public. These groups, called Area Maritime Security Committees, are tasked with collaborating on plans to secure their ports so that the resources of an area can be best used to deter, prevent and respond to terror threats.

The U.S. Coast Guard issued regulations to enact the provisions of the Act and to align domestic regulations with the maritime security standards of SOLAS and the ISPS Code. The regulations are found in Title 33 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Parts 101 through 107. Part 104 contains vessel security regulations, including some provisions that apply to foreign ships in U.S. waters.

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