The U.S. Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) is moving to force ocean carriers to provide data and information for monitoring an FMC-authorized agreement formed to combat West Coast port congestion.
According to the information provided by the Journal of Commerce, the FMC in a closed meeting last week unanimously voted to direct its staff to prepare an order to force the carriers to release the data and information. The agency declined to comment on what type of data and information carriers hadn’t handed over for regulators to use in monitoring the Pacific Port Operational Improvement Agreement ( the PPOIA).
The PPOIA agreement was formed to allow terminal operators and equipment managers to work with shipping lines, trucking companies and railroads to alleviate West Coast port congestion.
FMC commissioners have accused container lines and their vessel-sharing alliances of creating port congestion by inundating marine terminals with cargo from huge ships, and profiting by imposing congestion-related fees. The World Shipping Council has rejected those accusations, saying that port congestion has multiple causes and that large ships and alliances aren’t to blame.
Cargo interests, truckers and trade associations have urged the FMC to restrict marine terminals’ imposition of demurrage fees for late pickup of containers and carriers’ per-diem detention fees for late return of equipment.
After a series of hearings the FMC voted to release a report that stopped short of recommending official action but urged the industry to provide evidence of any charges that might be considered unreasonable.
Section 15 of the Shipping Act permits the FMC to order carriers to share data and information germane to its monitoring of agreements for which the commission has granted antitrust immunity. If the carriers don’t provide the requested data and information, the FMC can void the agreement.
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