Proposed new federal anti-terror rules could bring unreasonable costs and delays for family-owned ferries, sightseeing cruise lines and riverboat casinos, the Associated Press reports. Smaller companies could be driven out of business, maritime industry officials say.
The rules would require ships that carry at least 150 passengers to pay for extra security and possibly maybe to screen all passengers, cargo and baggage. The Coast Guard has left open the possibility of extending the rules to smaller vessels as well. “If we have to treat people the way you treat people at the airport, then our business is done,” said Alan Circeo, whose family operates A.C. Cruise Line, which offers sightseeing, wedding and whale-watching cruises around Boston Harbor. “We’re in the entertainment business. Our competition is local restaurants, theaters and museums.”
Under a law enacted last year, many U.S. coastal facilities, ports and ships must develop security plans by July 2004 and pay for guards, alarms, cameras and metal detectors.
Gary Frommelt, president of the Passenger Vessel Association, said that passenger vessels typically cannot be turned “into a weapon of mass destruction on the magnitude of an airplane. To put the full impact of these regulations on some of our operators really means they’d go out of business.”