Canadian Spring Thaw Regulations 2016

Please be advised  that Spring Thaw currently is in effect from March 1st till May 30th 2016. Spring weight restrictions on all provincial roads are in place and  will effect all pre carriages and truck deliveries  in the Province of Québec.

Heavy commercial vehicles will not be allowed to travel on specified roads throughout the province. The weight restrictions on heavy trucks are necessary during the spring thaw to help protect roads that are weakened by mild and wet weather.

Please note that weight restrictions can be different per carrier:


20ft DV max 47900 Lbs (21.7 ton)

40ft DV/HC max 50000 Lbs (22.6 ton)


20ft DV max 46010 Lbs (20.87 Ton)

40ft DV/HC max 44500 Lbs (20.19 Ton)


20ft DV max 50706 Lbs (23 ton)

40ft DV/HC max 48501 Lbs (22ton)

Please contact RCL Agencies  representative at 973-779-5900  if you have any  questions regarding your shipment.

Cargo Ships Being Scrapped at Record Rate

The Baltic Exchange’s main sea freight index, which tracks rates for ships carrying industrial commodities, slipped to another all-time low last week on worries about vessel oversupply and slowing global demand according to Reuters.
The Baltic Dry Index is down about 98 percent from its peak of 11,793 points in May 2008, marking the lowest level since the records began in 1985. The Baltic Dry Index is compiled by the London-based Baltic Exchange and measures how much it costs to ship dry commodities, meaning raw materials like grain and steel, around the world.

It is frequently used as an indicator  how well international trade is performing. If the price is low, it suggests trade is slowing.

The drop has been so bad that ships are being scrapped faster than they are being built. Analysts at Deutsche Bank led by Amit Mehrotra have been watching the fall closely and made the following notes:

  • Total dry bulk capacity declined by almost 1M tons (net) last week as the pace of deliveries slowed and scrapping remained elevated.
  • Around 16 ships were sold for scrap last week totaling 1.6M tons. This more than offset 9 new deliveries, translating to a net reduction of 7 vessels.
  • Last week’s scrapping would represent an annualized pace of 11% of installed capacity, which is almost double the all-time high of 6.3% set in 1986.
  • Year-to-date scrapping is up 80% versus same time last year.

It’s bad news for the industry, as it means that ship owners expect demand for cargo transport to remain weak well into the future.

Follow RCL Agencies for the latest updates about the global trade and international shipping.


Updated Fumigation Treatment Requirements from U.S. to Australia

Australia’s Department of Agriculture has issued updated mandatory treatment requirements to protect against the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug.

The new measures will come into effect on September 1, 2015, will run through April 30, 2016, and will be applicable to cargo ex U.S. East, West, and Gulf coasts for both full container loads and less than container loads

The “Notice to Industry” issued by Australia’s Department of Agriculture, will be a useful and important guideline to clients in the import and shipping industry, including importers and customs brokers associated with the importation of targeted break bulk and some containerized vehicles (including boats), and machinery shipped from the United States.

The proposal reinstates mandatory treatment requirements prior to the shipment of goods with revised treatment conditions, reduces the range of targeted cargo and includes different cut-off dates depending on the date of manufacture for new goods. The treatment conditions and season dates are based on new data that has become available and, at this point, are fixed to align where possible with New Zealand, .

Similar to last season, new and used vehicles, vessels and machinery are the target cargo. Currently the targeted commodities are Chapters 84,87 & 89 in the Harmonized Tariff listing. The new proposals are:

  • From 1 September 2015 all used goods in the target tariffs would need to be cleaned and treated for potential stink bug infestations immediately prior to shipping on or before 30 April 2016. This would apply to break bulk and FCL containerized goods.
  • All new goods in the harmonised tariff list that manufactured and/or stored between 1 September and 1 December 2015 and then shipped on or before 30 April 2016 as break bulk or FCL would be required to undergo offshore treatment unless subject to  alternative safeguarding arrangements approved by the department.
  • All new goods in the target tariffs manufactured after 1 December 2015 and shipped as break bulk or FCLs on or before 30 April 2016 would require a consignment specific manufacturer’s new, unused and not field tested (NUFT) declaration which includes the date and place of manufacture.

New data on  treatments is also become available.  There are 3 treatments that are approved by Australian Quarantine – Sulfuryl Fluoride, Methyl Bromide and Heat Treatment.

For more details please see the  “Notice to Industry” issued by Australia’s Department of Agriculture.


Major changes regarding verification and reporting of loaded container weight are being implemented – and these changes will affect all shippers, freight forwarders and NVOCC’s.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has amended the Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS) to require certified weight verification for all containerized cargo prior to loading on board a vessel. On July 1, the World Shipping Council (WSC) released a guideline for implementation of the new requirements regarding weight verification. The WSC consists of 26 members that represent approximately 90 percent of the global liner vessel capacity and they partner with governments and stakeholders and play an active role in the development of programs to improve maritime security and safety. Their complete summary of the requirement can be found below.

The new verification requirements go into effect July 1, 2016 and will require shippers of all containers to provide a certified weight certificate showing gross weight of the container and its contents. Verification must be provided to the ocean carrier (who will provide to the port terminal operator) sufficiently in advance of vessel loading so that the verification can be used n preparing vessel stowage plans. As the requirement now stands, NO containerized cargo will be loaded onto a vessel after July 1, 2016 unless the shipper has provided a signed weight certificate to the ocean. According to the guidelines, this requirement will apply to NVOCC’s and freight forwarders as well as cargo tendered by direct beneficial cargo owners. Even when the underlying shipper has provided weight verification, the forwarder/ NVOCC will be required to separately verify container weight and provide signed documentation to the ocean carrier whenever the forwarder/NVOCC is considered the shipper in relation to the ocean carrier.

Some of the main points of the guidelines are:

  • Obtaining and documenting the verified gross weight of a loaded container is the responsibility of the shipper
  • The ocean carriers will consider whoever tenders the cargo to them as the shipper
  • Verified weights will be used for ship stowage planning
  • If verified weights are not received by the ocean carrier in advance, containers cannot be loaded onto any ship that is subject to SOLAS regulations
  • Costs incurred due to shipper’s failure to comply will be for the account of the cargo

The SOLAS regulations allow for 2 methods to be used to obtain the gross container weight. The first would be to weigh the entire loaded container, using calibrated and certified equipment. Whether done by the shipper directly or at an outside service the shipper chooses, the scale equipment must meet applicable accuracy and calibration requirements of the State where the scale equipment is located.

A second method involves weighing all of the packages / items loading into the container, including pallets / dunnage / packing material and then adding the tare weight of the container. For cargo such as loose grain, scrap metal, or other bulk cargoes this method is considered inappropriate and impractical.

It is important to note that the “shipper” as named on the ocean bill of lading will be the party responsible for providing verified gross weight to the ocean carrier. The World Shipping Council’s current position is that NVOCC’s or master loaders on co-loaded cargo must themselves verify the container weight. This would mean that NVOCC’s will need to obtain authorization from their customer to separately verify or endorse the shipper’s weight certificate, or the NVOCC would have to independently obtain the necessary weight certificate.

Estimating the weight of any portion of the contents of the container will not be acceptable, and the party packing the container cannot use a weight provided by another party except under certain strict guidelines. Carriers and port operations who suspect that verified weights are erroneous will be able to take necessary action in the interests of safety with the current assumption that any charges incurred would be for the account of the cargo.

Overweight containers (exceeding the maximum permitted gross weight) will not be loaded. Weight verification can be provided as part of the shipping instructions provided to the ocean carrier, or in a separate declaration. The certification must be signed by a person so authorized by the shipper; electronic signatures will be allowed for EDI transmissions.

As the implantation date is a year away, there is a possibility that changes to some of the minor points could occur – but it seems clear that this regulation will go into effect next year. Shippers, NVOCC’s and forwarders should begin considering the implications and how this regulation will affect their shipments.

RCL will be monitoring this issue closely, and will provide updates if and when they become available.

Summary of new weight verification requirements as provided by World Shipping Council that go into effect July 1, 2016.

India Approves New Deep-Sea Port

Last week Indian authorities approved a new project  for developing a new container transshipment port at Vizhinjam, a deep-sea, green field site in the country’s southern state of Kerala.

According to The Journal of Commercia, the project had only one bidder, domestic port infrastructure developer Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone and  is designed to be built in two phases, with the initial phase estimated to cost Rs. 5,552 crore (roughly $872 million). Phase I would include the construction of 2,625 feet of quay, 53 hectares of storage space and an annual capacity of 1 million 20-foot-equivalent units.

The site’s 59-foot natural channel depth, with a provision to increase it to 72 feet via dredging, would allow the planned port to accommodate very large container vessels.

Officials estimate construction on the first phase would take approximately four years to complete.

The Vizhinjam port has been a long-time goal of the local government to spur industrial activities in the state. The state agency had failed in its two previous attempts to bid out the project.It is vital to India’s long-term strategy to capture domestic cargo currently moving through other hub ports in the region, especially Sri Lanka’s Port of Colombo.  Statistics collected by show Colombo’s transshipment volumes in 2014 reached 3.8 million TEUs, up from 3.2 million TEUs in the previous year.The intra-Asia trade is currently booming, with carriers adding services throughout the region, from India to the Middle East, and India to China. The China to India trade has been especially competitive as of late.

Adanis’ port operations in India include cargo facilities at Hazira, Dahej, Goa, Dhamra, Visakhapatnam and Ennore.

Stay informed with RCL Agencies updates about international ports and global shipping.



Pacific Northwest Congestion Impacting Rail Traffic while LA/Long Beach Congestion Reaches Record High

Several carriers have advised that they are limiting  rail volumes and closing ramps   at Charlotte, Pittsburgh, Louisville, Chicago, Cicero,  Huntsville and Minneapolis  for any traffic destined to the Pacific Northwest terminals of  Seattle/ Tacoma.  This is due to terminal congestion and increased volume at  those ports,  which is now impacting the rail network.  Additional ramps may be added as the problems continue.  As RCL has previously reported, the ILWU (International Longshore and Warehouse Union) and PMA (Pacific Maritime Association) are currently engaged in contract negotiations, with the PMA accusing the union of staging a work slowdown at west coast ports,   and the union countering that the PMA is staging a “media blitz” to blame the union for congestion issues.
Serious vessel congestion also continues in Southern California.  According to the  Marine Exchange of Southern California, twelve  container ships were anchored in San Pedro Bay on Tuesday morning waiting to berth at the ports of Los Angeles.  This represents  the longest  wait time in San Pedro Bay in two years – surpassing the previous record set on Oct. 26 – as congestion continues to crush the largest container gateway in the Americas.  In the next three days an additional  nineteen container ships are scheduled to arrive; of those, fifteen are due to berth and four are set to anchor. There is  usually zero wait time for container ships at Los Angeles-Long Beach, according to Capt. J. Kipling Louttit, executive director of the Marine Exchange of California. 
As fears of a possible dockworker strike or lockout grow,  The National Retail Federation  and other business groups have sent a letter to President Obama, urging that a federal mediator be appointed to help the union and port management reach an agreement before the situation deteriorates further.  A six- year agreement covering close to 20,000 dockworkers at 29 West Coast ports expired July 1 and contract negotiations have been on-going since then.
Many steamship line contracts and tariffs include a provision for surcharges that can be assessed at any time for congestion due to labor unrest.  If the West Coast port situation worsens, carriers may begin to assess these surcharges and shippers may find themselves paying unexpectedly higher rates  for their shipments.
Shippers and beneficial cargo owners should  consider re-routing their cargo via non-affected ports, such as east coast or gulf ports.  RCL Agencies has an extensive cargo transportation network, and can provide you with options and rates to help you avoid the current west coast situation – just call or email us!

US Federal Maritime Commission Approves Ocean Carrier Alliance

According to the officials, the US Federal Maritime Commission has approved the planned vessel alliance of Maersk Line and Mediterranean Shipping Co., the two largest ocean carriers.

The ocean-shipping regulatory agency’s action is one step in the plan by No. 1 ocean carrier Maersk, a Danish company, and the Italian steamship line known as MSC to share space on their vessels to reduce costs on the world’s busiest freight routes linking Asia, Europe and North America.

MSC and Maersk formed their alliance, known as 2M, after a larger plan that also included third-largest ocean operator CMA-CGM of France was scuttled by Chinese regulators. Last month, CMA-CGM advanced a new alliance called Ocean Three with China Shipping Container Line and United Arab Shipping.

Although 2M and Ocean Three each are smaller than P3 would have been, cargo owners and smaller shipping companies are skeptical of the alliances, fearing that the big competitors’ control of freight rates across all major routes might eventually drive smaller companies out of business.

Regulators outside the United States still haven’t ruled on the 2M plan.

According to Wall Street Journa, the 2M pact will control 35% of the Asia-Europe trade loop and 15% and 37% of the cargo moved across the trans-Pacific and trans-Atlantic routes, respectively.

That alliance and Ocean Three are expected to bring some stability to freight rates. Smaller competitors, which now regularly undercut prevailing prices, likely will be forced out of the Asia-Europe loop, unable to compete with the combined might of the alliance partners.

Stay informed with RCL Agencies updates about global shipping.

EU Commision Extends Special Competition for Liner Shipping Consortia

The European Commission reports in its official press release the validity of the existing legal framework exempting , if certain conditions are met, liner shipping consortia from EU antitrust rules.

After a public consultation, the Commission has concluded that the exemption has worked well, providing legal certainty to agreements which bring benefits to customers and does not unduly distort competition, and that current market circumstances warrant a prolongation.

The maritime consortia block exemption regulation allows shipping lines with a combined market share of below 30% to enter into cooperation agreements to provide joint cargo transport services (so-called “consortia”).

Such agreements usually allow liner shipping carriers to rationalise their activities and achieve economies of scale. If consortia face sufficient competition and are not used to fix prices or share the market, users of services provided by consortia are usually able to benefit from improvements in productivity and service quality. The Commission has therefore exempted such agreements from the prohibition of anticompetitive agreements in Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).

Stay informed with RCL Agencies updates about global trade and shipping regulations.

EU ports Sign LNG Joint Venture

According to a port of Rotterdam Authority press release, the port authorities of Antwerp, Mannheim, Rotterdam, Strasbourg and Switzerland signed a joint venture for the introduction of LNG (Liquid Natural Gas). This involves cooperation in the areas of research, promotion, knowledge transfer, legislation and bunker infrastructure.

It follows the LNG Master Plan of the Rhine-Main-Danube corridor in which all parties are involved. The aim of the plan is to put LNG to full scale use as a fuel for inland shipping in the area.

To support the construction of the required LNG infrastructure in the region, the European Union is providing a €40m subsidy.

The port of Rotterdam already has a terminal dedicated to the storage and handling of LNG. The Rotterdam Port Authority says this co-operation agreement ties in with its aim to see the market for LNG as a fuel develop to its full potential, and to open an LNG hub in Rotterdam by the end of 2015.

RCL can help you stay informed about global shipping issues – visit our website at for more information and blogs.


EU and Japan Accelerate Talks Toward Trade Agreement

According to the officials, last week the European Union and Japan agreed to accelerate progress toward achieving a comprehensive economic partnership and trade agreement. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at a press conference concluding the EU-Japan Summit in Brussels, and Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council, said both sides had agreed to push talks forward and make renewed efforts to surmount issues related to market access for specific goods as well as geographical indicators.

President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso also noted progress in the level of commitment from both sides but said huge efforts would be needed if the accord was to have widespread effects on economic growth and job creation. “For negotiations to succeed and the agreement to be truly transformational we need to inject a high level of ambition across the board, especially in areas such as market access for goods including agriculture, non-tariff measures, public procurement or geographic indications”commented Barroso.

Trade between the two regions has been growing at 4% annually over the past five year and reached E110 billion in 2013.

Japan is the EU’s second biggest trading partner in Asia, after China. In 2013, the EU represented 9% of Japan’s trade, making it Japan’s third most important trade partner. Japan was the EU’s sixth largest export market and EU exports to Japan reached E54 billion in 2013. EU imports from Japan stood at E56 billion.

The European Commission estimates that a successful introduction of a free-trade agreement between the two sides could boost Europe’s economy by 0.6% to 0.8% of GDP. EU exports to Japan could increase by 32.7% while Japanese exports to the EU could increase by 23.5%. As many as 420,000 jobs could also be created in the EU.

To assess the progress achieved during the first year of negotiations, the Commission is currently finalizing a report, which will be presented to the Council in the coming weeks.

Stay informed with RCL Agencies updates about global trade and international shipping.