DHS Moves to Update MTSA

On December 20, 2010, DHS published its semi-annual regulatory agenda, which among other things, addressed an upcoming Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that will include updates to Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA) Code of Federal Regulations (33 CFR Parts 101-106). The NPRM will incorporate feedback received from industry stakeholders, Coast Guard field units, and the public. It will also consolidate appropriate actions declared in various Policy Advisory Council (PAC) Decisions and MTSA Help Desk responses. Updates to the MTSA regulations are certainly welcome, as the regulations have been on the books for many years without change.

Toward that end, the Coast Guard has indicated that the NPRM would:

• Address screening standards for port and vessel facilities;
• Establish security training standards that will be modeled after the courses developed by the Maritime Administration (MARAD), and the training standards and courses developed by the International Maritime Organization (IMO); and
• Update existing regulations regarding the areas of maritime security plans, facility and vessel security plans, and facility exercise requirements found in SAFE Port.

This regulatory update coincides with ongoing discussions regarding "harmonization" with the Chemical-Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS). Although MTSA-CFATS harmonization remains a subject of discussion (with slow but steady movement), early indications suggest that harmonization is separate from (though loosely related to) the necessary process of updating the longstanding MTSA regulations.

Guest Blogger: Steve Roberts

Steve Roberts is an attorney who practices in the rapidly developing area of homeland security law and regulation. Mr. Roberts writes and speaks frequently on the legal aspects of homeland security and counterterrorism affecting the nation's critical infrastructure. His audiences have included government departments and agencies - such as the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Secret Service, Coast Guard, and the Federal Reserve - as well as academia and industry. His written work has appeared in newspapers, magazines, and law reviews.


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