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Maritime security will be discussed in conference here

Fanny S. Chirinos Caller-Times

Diplomats, lawmakers, military and scientific leaders from around the world, including 18 members of the U.S. House, will converge in Corpus Christi next weekend for a three-day conference on ocean security.

The Washington, D.C.-based Ocean Security Initiative will bring leaders from more than 30 countries here Feb. 10-12 to participate in round-table discussions on promoting ocean, port and marine transportation security. U.S. Rep. Solomon P. Ortiz, D-Corpus Christi, helped found the organization in the late 1990s to protect commercial waterways.

The first Ocean Security Initiative conference was held in July 2005 in Libya with the goal of promoting national, sub-regional and local projects to enhance ocean security. Open dialogue is important, Ortiz said.

Organizer Lencho Rendon of the consulting firm LR Global, said organizers are focusing on the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Ocean, with many of the participants from Central and South America and the Caribbean. Among the hottest issues are energy projects in and around Cuba, methods of tracking commercial vessels and food supplies traveling in the gulf and Caribbean, he added.

"Technology has made the world so small nowadays and what happens in one part of the world affects the other," said Rendon, who was Ortiz's longtime chief of staff. "It's important to have communication with our neighbors to the south. A terroristic attack and a natural disaster would be enough to wipe out an entire country's economy. We have to work together."

Ortiz said organizers could have taken the conference to any other city, but chose Corpus Christi.

"We have the Port of Corpus Christi, the gulf and proximity to our neighbors to the south," Ortiz said. "There was no other logical place."

One of the first day's roundtable discussions will be on ocean monitoring and early warning systems to minimize the impact of natural disasters, such as hurricanes. A second roundtable will discuss protecting the environment while conducting business focused on port security and energy and sustainable tourism.

Day two will focus on reviewing the preliminary recommendations from the roundtable discussions of the first day. A review of the recommendations and finding opportunities to make change take place during the final day.

Milton Copulos, president of the Virginia-based National Defense Council Foundation, an energy security think tank, said activity in Cuba, specifically leader Fidel Castro's health and the country's oil boom, makes the gulf region a hot spot.

The conference isn't an unusual occurrence but its results could be valuable, he said.

Who's who

The following are confirmed attendees to the Ocean Security Initiative (OSI)

U.S. Representatives

  1. 1Solomon P. Ortiz, D-Corpus Christi; chairman, Military Readiness Sub-Committee,Armed Services Committee; dean, Hispanic Caucus; House co-chair, Congressional Advisory Board, Ocean Security Initiative

  2. 2Silvestre Reyes, D-El Paso; chairman, Intelligence Committee; member of OSI Congressional Advisory Board

  3. 3Ike Skelton, D-Mo.; chairman, House Armed Services Committee

  4. 4Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawaii; chairman, House Armed Services Subcommittee on Air and Land Forces

  5. 5John Murtha, D-Pa.; chairman, Defense Appropriations Subcommittee

  6. 6Gene Taylor, D-Miss.; chairman, Seapower and Expeditionary Forces Subcommittee; Armed Services Committee; member of Congressional Advisory Board, OSI

  7. 7Tom Allen, D-Maine; co-chair of ocean Caucus; member, OSI

  8. 8Ruben Hinojosa, D-Mercedes; member, OSI Advisory board

  9. 9Ciro Rodriguez, D-San Antonio; member, OSI Advisory board

  10. 10Gene Green, D-Houston; member, OSI advisory board

  11. 11Charles Gonzalez, D-San Antonio; member, OSI advisory board

  12. 12Jeff Miller, R-Fla.

  13. 13Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo

  14. 14Curt Weldon, R-Pa.

  15. 15Jo Ann Davis, R-Va.

  16. 16Bennie G. Thompson, D-Miss.

  17. 17Sam Farr, D-Calif.

  18. 18Madeleine Bordallo, D-Guam


  1. 1Sen. Yvor Nassief, Minister of Tourism, Dominican Republic

  2. 2Sen. Marta Lucia Ramirez, former Minister of Commerce and Minister of Defense, Colombia

  3. 3Rep. Oscar Fernando Bravo Realpe, Colombia

  4. 4Sen. Ricardo Arias Mora, Colombia

  5. 5Sen. Jairo Clopatofsky, Colombia

  6. 6Sen. Adriana Gutierrez, Colombia

  7. 7Sen. Manuel Enriques Rosero, Colombia

  8. 8Rep. Julio Gallardo Archbolld, Colombia

  9. 9Rep. Augusto Posada, Colombia

  10. 10Sen. Larisa Ponomareva, Chukotka Region, Russian Federation

  11. 11Adm. Michael Boyce, Office of Chief of Defense, United Kingdom

  12. 12Peter Verga, acting asst. Secretary of Defense for Homeland Security

  13. 13Sean Connaughton, administrator, Maritime Administration, U.S. Department of Transport

  14. 14Vice Adm. John G. Morgan, Jr., deputy chief of Naval Operations for Information, Plans and Strategy

  15. 15Miguel Chissano, chairman, Maritime and Border Commission of Mozambique

  16. 16Oscar Rueda, Deputy Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, Colombia

  17. 17Maximiliano Puig Miller, Minister of Environment, Dominican Republic

  18. 18Dean Peart, Minister of Local Government and Environment, Jamaica

  19. 19Fernando J. Bonilla, Secretary of State, Puerto Rico

  20. 20Mamadou Tall, Deputy Minister of Environment and Protection of Nature, Senegal

  21. 21Godfrey Smith, Minister of Tourism, Information and the National Emergency Management Organization, Belize

  22. 22Burney El Hage, Minister for Economic Development and Labour Issues, the Netherlands Antilles

  23. 23Rear Adm. Neil Morisetti, Commander of the United Kingdom Maritime Force

  24. 24Mary Seet-Cheng, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Singapore

  25. 25Roberto Quaas, head, National Center for the Prevention of Disasters, Mexico

  26. 26Lucas Gonzalez Milla, Director of Land and Maritime Border, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Venezuela

  27. 27Yashar Aliyev, Ambassador of Azerbaijan to the United States

  28. 28Julian Reyna, Secretary General of the Colombian Ocean Commission

  29. 29Laura Dachner, Minister Counselor For Economic Affairs, Embassy of Costa Rica to the United States

  30. 30Cesar Toro, Secretary of IOCARIBE of UNESCO

  31. 31Stephen F. Lintner, senior advisor, Quality Assurance and Compliance Unit, The World Bank

  32. 32Adm. Jacques Lanxade, former Joint Chief of Staff, former French Ambassador to Tunisia, Chairman of the Mediterranean Foundation for Strategic Studies, France

  33. 33Rear Adm. Roberto Patruno, senior OSI Policy Advisor on Mediterranean Ocean Security Affairs and former Head of REMPEC, Malta

  34. 34Carlos Marino, president and CEO of Avantel, Colombia

  35. 35Fabian Martinez, Economic Development Director, Puerto Rico

  36. 36Francois Baird, co-chairman, Baird's CMC; chairman, Baird Renaissance, South Africa

  37. 37Luz Elena Chois, Asesora, Grupo Indigena Palomekune Etnia Sicuani, Colombia

  38. 38James Ordonez, associate producer, Atlantic Caribbean Studios Production

  39. 39Mervin Wyatt Ras, President of Parliament, Aruba

  40. 40Lidia Castro de Dones, general administrator, National Environmental Authority, Panama

  41. 41Maria B.J. Bennaton, minister counselor, Economic and Trade Affairs, Embassy of Honduras to the United States

  42. 42Jose Carlos Quirce, director, Ministry of Foreign Trade, Costa Rica

  43. 43Cees Laban, Netherlands Geological Survey, TMO Built Environment and Geosciences

U.S. Agencies

  1. 1David Balton, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Oceans and Fisheries

  2. 2David Johnson, Asst. Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

  3. 3Rear Adm. Fred Byus, oceanographer for the Navy

  4. 4Ruben Bonilla, chairman, Port of Corpus Christi Authority

  5. 5Robert Furgason, director of Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi

  6. 6Wes Tunnell, associate director, Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies and Harte Research Scientist director, Center for Coastal Studies and Professor of Biology, Texas A&M University- Corpus Christi

  7. 7Quenton Dokken, executive director of The Gulf of Mexico Foundation

  8. 8Flavius C. Killebrew, president, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi

  9. 9Gary Jeffress, director, the Texas Coastal and Ocean Observation Network

  10. 10Lee Fuiman, director, University of Texas Marine Science Institute

  11. 11Bruce Moulton, Texas Commission for Environmental Protection

  12. 12Bryon Griffith, director of the EPA's Gulf of Mexico Program

  13. 13John LaRue, executive director, Port of Corpus Christi

Source: Lencho Rendon, LR Global; Ocean Security Initiative