The deadly importance of border control has come into focus with the West African Ebola outbreak. Liberia is sealing land borders to halt the spread of disease. Concerns over air travel are increased from the death of an American who traveled between 4 African countries before dying and a corpse being discovered in the landing gear of a C-130 after a transit from Senegal to Germany. In the midst of a panic about air and land travel, maritime border security is something we take for granted – assuming the huge ports and endless bands of coastline are secure.
Buried under the grabbing headlines of epidemics, border disputes, and weapons procurement – the daily grind of basic maritime border control and enforcement is lost. The world has a total 372,000 miles of coastline and the sea’s traffic is both diverse and voluminous. Welcome to the machine – the day-to-day of cargo screening, customs enforcement, coastal traffic monitoring, visa & entry procedures, verifying vessel registries, keeping out ne’er-do-wells, preventing North Korea from sneaking weapons through your country, etc… Monitoring these comings and goings on even an elementary level is a massive undertaking.
Different entities handle these issues in different ways, from hand-scrawled schedules and security documents to the precision of computerized megaports or just the varied law enforcement options deployed by coastal states. While we often touch on these issues in part – CIMSEC will be dedicating an entire week to the subject.
CIMSEC is putting out a call for articles on everything maritime border control related: customs enforcement, cargo checks, disease and biological material screenings, interdiction, monitoring coastal traffic, etc… – DUE 15 August to nextwar(at)cimsec.org