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Canada - U.S. Working Together to Thwart Terrorist Threat to Great Lakes Region

(April 15, 2002) - Canada and the United States have initiated a cross border program to share intelligence and increase security boardings on foreign commercial ships entering the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Great Lakes.


The events of September 11, 2001 have demonstrated the need for increased security measures to protect this vital North American waterway. The threat is real; every ship that transits these waters passes critical infrastructure and large populated areas. Both nations are working closely together to provide maximum security, while minimizing disruption to commercial shipping. Risk Assessment Inspections of vessels transiting the Seaway have increased. Between September 11 and December 24, 2001, the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (SLSDC) and The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) conducted 209 joint inspections.


"This is an important continuation of our day-to-day cooperative activities," said Albert S. Jacquez, SLSDC Administrator and Guy V+¬ronneau, SLSMC President. "All ships entering the St. Lawrence Seaway have to give us 96-hour advance notification of arrival with no exception. Ships failing to give notice, or those whose notice is incomplete, will be prohibited from entering the Seaway."


The U.S. Coast Guard and the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency special analysis units are conducting the initial screening of the ship's information and are submitting the crew and passenger list to a centralized information center. If a potential threat were identified, the ship would undergo a security boarding by a team of personnel from Canadian agencies before it enters the Seaway and the Great Lakes. These boardings are in addition to random boardings and other security measures already in place.


Many agencies have worked together to create this program, including Transport Canada, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, Canadian Navy, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation, the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, U.S. Customs, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, and the U.S. Consul General's Office in Montreal.


The St. Lawrence Seaway/Great Lakes System has an enormous impact on the North American economy. It generates more than $3 billion annually and more than 150,000 jobs in the United States alone, and has a similar impact in Canada.