Maritime Cargo Security: Protecting Our Seaports and Communities and the Goods that Move Through Them

Press Release January 24, 2005 
Richard Charter

March 4, 2005
USC Davidson Conference Center, 3415
South Figueroa Street, Los Angeles, CA 90089 

The twin ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles handle more containerized cargo than any seaport in the US. More than 13 million TEUs (twenty-foot-equivalent units) per year pass through the two seaports, much of that cargo of Asian origin. Because of the huge volume of cargo moved through the ports, much of it containerized, cargo security and the risk of terrorist use of those containers is of concern to policy makers and law enforcement.

The risks are regional, not simply limited to the jurisdiction of the ports, because cargo containers move throughout the region, thus weaponized cargo can equally well move outside the ports into all parts of Southern California served by road or rail. Dangerous cargos have moved overland since the our state was settled but the threat of terrorism of a maritime origin is new and dictates that we think about a regional strategy for planning for a terrorist threat and begin planning responses to those threats.

This conference will bring together experts from the marine transportation industry, university researchers, public officials, organized labor and the ports to begin a regional conversation on making maritime cargo movement safer. To begin that discussion, the meeting will explore three issues: What are the risks that we might expect from marine cargo moving from the seaports to their ultimate destinations? Second, can we anticipate the economic and political costs that planning for and responding to an incident will impose on the public, policymakers and the economy? Third, what shall we now do to lessen the impact of such an impact on our region, both in the ports and in surrounding communities?

Following welcoming remarks, the morning panel will explore the
terrorist risks to which the port and land transportation network in
the region could be exposed. Composed of experts from the USC School of Policy, Planning and Development, the US Coast Guard, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Port of Los Angeles the panel will also engage questions the audience in a
question period. A luncheon will follow the morning session at which Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach) will address the participants. Congressman Rohrabacher's district encompasses both the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach and thus he has a unique perspective on both port and cargo security.

In the first of two afternoon sessions, economists and political
scientists from USC and UC San Diego will further expand the
costs-both economic and political from a terrorist incident. They
will present the results of research on economic costs to the region
of an incident as well as discuss the political dilemmas and costs of
contingency planning to policy makers. The panel will provide both
the political and economic context in which contingency planning will
be done in the region.

In the final session of the day, the Captain of the Port will
describe the benefits of the Area Maritime Safety Committee developed and organized by his office to coordinate activity among various first responder agencies. Using that plan as a model, researchers from USC will examine what we need to be doing as a region to develop a robust plan to prevent and respond to a terrorism incident coming from the sea.

The conference theme is to bring together public and agency
officials, industry representatives and researchers from throughout
the region as well as the interested general public. Registration is
$35 per person and reservations are required. 

For More Information, please contact Dr. James Fawcett | 213.740.4477

  • USC Sea Grant
  • 3454 Trousdale Pkwy, CAS 200
  • Los Angeles, CA 90089-0373
  • (213) 740 - 1961