Maritime Law Enforcement
Maintain the security of U.S.
coastal borders, ports, and harbors through improved maritime
The U.S. is a world leader
in the enforcement of laws concerning drug and illegal immigrant
smuggling, customs regulations, harvesting of living marine resources
in our Exclusive Economic Zone, and marine safety and environmental
protection. International maritime criminal activities pose clear
threats to our borders, our economy, our environment, and our
national security and require strong offshore law enforcement.
Additionally, the post-Cold War era has brought emerging threats,
such as terrorism, arms trafficking, evasion of international
trade sanctions, and piracy, each with potential maritime components.
Critical U.S. ports and waterways infrastructure, commercial
carriers moving U.S. military cargo, and large numbers of U.S.
citizens aboard cruise ships may be at risk.
The marine transportation system
is especially vulnerable to illegal and terrorist activities
because its scale, complexity, and pace of activity often overwhelm
local, state, and federal detection and enforcement capabilities
and private-sector protective measures. Increased cooperation
with our international partners is needed to disrupt illegal
activity before contraband is loaded onto vessels destined for
the United States. Enforcement efforts must also take full advantage
of maritime transportation choke points and challenge suspect
vessels before they reach U.S. ports. As governments remove barriers
to trade and travel, U.S. officials need more information on
the cross-border flow of people and goods and on other maritime
activities to better identify criminal and other illegal actions.
- International criminal and
terrorist threats are constantly changing and adapting to current
law enforcement capabilities. Today's communications and integrated
intelligence systems lack the sophistication to support real-time
monitoring of vessels, people, and cargo movements.
- High-level awareness of the
emerging threats to the marine transportation system is required,
along with the interservice, interagency, and international coordination
needed to address them.
- The U.S. currently claims
a 12-nautical-mile contiguous zone, yet customary international
law, as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law
of the Sea, allows states to claim a 24-nautical-mile contiguous
- Improve cooperation at the
interagency, interservice, and international levels to address
threats to our maritime interests, including collecting and sharing
key information, and developing and integrating real-time intelligence
systems for tracking cargo, personnel, and commercial vessel
- Improve U.S. capability to
conduct surveillance, detection, identification, classification,
and interdiction of maritime threats before they reach U.S. coasts
- Acknowledge the low level
of current security awareness in the marine transportation system,
and initiate a national education campaign to improve federal,
state, and local awareness of the growing threats.
- Declare a 24-nautical-mile
contiguous zone consistent with international law, as reflected
in Article 33 of the Law of the Sea Convention.
For more information
Strong maritime law enforcement
is critical to discourage people from violating the law by providing
consequences for those who do. Fisheries enforcement boardings
have increased by 50% over the last four years, providing critical
support to rebuilding and maintaining fish stocks threatened
by overfishing. In addition, drug interdiction efforts in 1998
result ed in the seizure of more than 80,000 pounds of cocaine,
keeping some 374 million hits with a value of $ 2.9 billion off
of our streets and out of our schools.