European and Asian Shippers Reject Mandatory Weighing of Containers

As the Journal of  Commerce reports, the European and Asian shippers’ councils have called fro the rejection of the proposals for the mandatory weighing and verification of ocean containers before they are loaded on board ship.

Several  months ago the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has received a formal proposal co-sponsored by a broad array of industry organizations, labor, and governments to require loaded containers to be weighed to determine their actual weight.

Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) currently requires the shipper to provide an accurate container weight declaration, but this requirement is often not met, is not enforced by SOLAS parties, and there is no requirement to actually weigh a loaded container.

The shippers’ organizations launched their appeal on the eve of a key meeting of an International Maritime Organization committee that will consider whether there should be global mandatory rules for blanket weighing of containers.

The shipper groups, which claim to represent 75 percent of the global container trade, said  that proposals to be considered next week at the IMO have been “made without proper analysis being carried out, including a possible impact assessment”.

To rectify the problem, the cosponsors propose a legal requirement, not only that the shipper provides an accurate weight declaration, but that the port facility and the ship have a weight verification certificate obtained by weighing the container. This will ensure that the actual weight of all loaded containers is received prior to stowing the container onto a vessel.

In a joint statement they called for members of the IMO’s subcommittee on dangerous goods, solid cargoes and containers to reject the proposals when they meet next week in London.

The shippers’ councils  said in their statement that “making weight verification mandatory will merely add to the costs, resulting in undue delays in the supply chain without significantly decreasing the risk of occurrence of such accidents”.

The shippers claimed that, a one-size-fits-all solution being discussed by the IMO is not only ineffective, but may even be detrimental to international trade and shipping.

Overweight containers have long been an issue of controversy and have been seen as a possible cause of boxship casualties.

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