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Cargo security seal manufacturers draft, adopt Best Practices guideline

Leading manufacturers of cargo security seals have drafted and adopted a best-practices guideline to enhance the security of the global cargo supply chain.

The International Seal Manufacturers Association Inc (ISMA) now requires its members to adhere to the guideline as a condition of membership. To further increase security effectiveness, ISMA has provided the document to three organizations that can make a difference in supply chain security: the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the World Customs Organization (WCO), and the International Standards Organization (ISO).

More than a year ago, the ISO enacted a Publicly Available Specification (PAS) — an interim standard — covering the physical strength of cargo seals. However, it was clear to the major seal manufacturers and to key stakeholders such as CBP that the PAS did not address management of the seals.

CBP hosted informal meetings in 2003 with leaders of ISMA and the United Kingdom-based Security Seal Industry Association (SSIA), and those meetings proved to be a catalyst for action. Besides exchanging information about improving seal security effectiveness, the CBP encouraged seal manufacturers to be more proactive in assuring the proper and effective use of their products. CBP officials expressed the shared concern that terrorists might exploit a lapse in cargo security to carry out a major attack, one that could trigger self-imposed protective embargoes.

The leaders of ISMA, with some participation from SSIA, took the initiative to codify the best practices necessary to preclude problems such as counterfeit or “cloned” seals and the diversion of legitimate seals before their proper use. The resulting document is Security Seal Manufacturer Best Practices, which covers the life cycle of security seals from design through post-use recordkeeping.

For more information, access www.isma-security.org.

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