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Port Congestion Measures, New Regulations Agreed at FMC Meeting

Monday, June 29, 2015
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The Federal Maritime Commission voted June 24 to take the following actions.

Port Congestion. A staff report entitled “U.S. Port Congestion & Related International Supply Chain Issues: Causes, Consequences & Challenges” will be posted on the FMC website in the near future. This report highlights six major themes discussed at FMC forums held at major gateway ports last fall: investment and planning; chassis availability and related issues; vessel and terminal operations; port drayage and truck turn-time; extended gate hours, PierPASS and congestion pricing; and collaboration and communication.

In addition, the FMC plans to order the ocean carrier members of the Pacific Port Operational Improvement Agreement to submit certain data and information relevant to the FMC’s oversight responsibilities and further assessment of the competitive impact of the agreement. A World Maritime News article states that this agreement “authorizes the parties to discuss, exchange information and reach agreement with respect to measures towards improving the efficiency of operations of West Coast port facilities, reducing congestion at such facilities, inspection, safety and efficient use of equipment, and related port operational matters.”

New Regulations. The FMC will propose regulatory changes to implement statutory amendments made in 2014 that permit attorney fees to be awarded to the prevailing party in any Shipping Act complaint proceeding, establish term limits for future FMC commissioners, limit the amount of time a future commissioner can serve beyond the end of his/her term, and establish conflict of interest restrictions for current and future commissioners.

The FMC also plans to issue a direct final rule amending and modernizing its regulations on access to Commission information and records and its regulations implementing the Freedom of Information Act, including a modification to the criteria for granting expedited processing of requests.

Controlled Carrier. The FMC voted to grant United Arab Shipping Company’s petition for an exemption from certain statutory requirements so that it may lawfully reduce its tariff rates, charges, classifications, rules or regulations effective upon publication.

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