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Federal Officials to Listen to Stakeholder Concerns about Container Weight Requirement

Tuesday, February 16, 2016
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The Federal Maritime Commission will host a listening session Feb. 18 on a new container weight verification requirement slated to take effect worldwide July 1. The pending requirement for shippers to certify the weight of cargo containers before they are loaded on a container ship stems from amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea that were adopted by International Maritime Organization members in November 2014.

The Coast Guard, which is coming under increasing pressure to postpone the new requirement, will attend this session to hear concerns and feedback from industry and stakeholders. The agency said it will specifically seek to understand how the industry complies with the existing container weight reporting requirement, how the amendments that take effect July 1 impact the existing processes and relationships used to achieve that compliance, and how the Coast Guard can facilitate continued compliance in a manner that ensures the safety of ships at sea and maintains the efficiency of the marine transportation system.

A Journal of Commerce article quoted Coast Guard Rear Admiral Paul Thomas as saying that a U.S. delay would have little practical effect because “foreign-flag ships, which carry the vast majority of containers from the U.S., would be bound by their flag states’ requirements not to load the containers in U.S. ports” until the container weights are verified. Thomas has reportedly said that the Coast Guard plans to issue a policy letter later this month but that it will contain “very little” of the clarifying information that shippers are seeking.

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