East Coast has watchful eye on ports

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OTTAWA, Ont. — The ports along Canada’s East Coast will be monitored more vigilantly because increased security at larger ports leaves more opportunity for smuggling at the smaller havens.

Since Sept. 11, officials say all methods of transporting goods, at ports, airports and border crossings, have been identified as risky.

The East Coast has some of the smaller ports in the country so they don’t tend to carry the sheer volume of containers that others would, but they do have movement coming in and out, and anytime there is movement of international cargo, you have to evaluate the risk, officials say.

More than 850 vessels show up off the East Coast each day, and these ports will be closely monitored over the next several years using a national database of vessel activity and by co-ordinating efforts with other countries as well as equipping vessels with tracking devices, and cargo scanning gear.

The standing senate committee on national security and defense made recommendations in the report released Tuesday in Ottawa.

These include, adopting a timely warning system to notify authorities when vessels approach and leave Canadian waters, coordinating resources including military, coast guard, intelligence and satellite to improve coastal monitoring, and coordinating efforts with U.S. authorities. The panel also called on Ottawa to increase surveillance on the Great Lakes and expand military training capabilities and exercises with the U.S.

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