By R. Bruce Striegler

PortSecure 2012 is the sixth Canadian Port Security Conference produced by the MacDonnell Group of Halifax, which specializes in innovative engineering, management consulting, security training and cultural productions. The company’s President, Ralston MacDonnell, explained that the Canadian Port Security Conferences had their roots in the post-9/11 world and the International Maritime Organization’s ISPS code, a comprehensive set of measures amended in 2004 to the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention. The measures were developed in response to the perceived threats to ships and port facilities in the wake of the 9/11 attacks in the United States.

Mr. MacDonnell says, “We began working with our port customers to develop security plans and training programs that had never existed before 9/11, but became mandatory in July 2004.” Mr. MacDonnell says that the company trained nearly 4,000 Canadians. “What we discovered was that these people who were taking on the responsibilities for seaport security had come from a wide range of backgrounds, but were now participating in a common professional activity.”

“We recognized there were no organizations for this new seaport security profession and they were looking for resources for further professional development. We proposed to the industry in 2007 a port security conference to help address that need.” The first port security conference came about in Toronto that year. We crafted an environment where it would be easy for participants to learn about regulations, best practices and learn about technology because all these things were new to Canadians.”

The conference has also been held in Montreal but returned to Vancouver for the past three years. “Reasons to keep it in Vancouver included the huge maritime and maritime security industry in the region, and the high level of security preparations for the 2010 Winter Olympics.” The 2013 event, however, is tentatively scheduled to take place in Ottawa.

PortSecure 2012, attended by over 120 representatives from the Canadian and U.S. marine industry listened to updates from Transport Canada and the U.S. Coast Guard on implementation of Beyond the Border: A Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness, the role of the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada and a security overview of Washington State Ferries.

Speakers from the U.S. and Canada gave delegates summaries of cooperative regional initiatives around recovery planning while a panel of port and marine technology professionals discussed integration of today’s security surveillance technologies. Panels of industry professionals discussed how local government, ports and industry can work together to plan recovery preparation, and to discuss best practices in port security operations.