August updates to sea carrier laws under the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2021 are likely to give the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) more control over complaints regarding freight ships entering US docks. 

 

The Act comes on the heels of the National Industrial Transportation League’s (NITL) May 18, 2021 proposal to overhaul the Shipping Act of 1984. 

 

NITL recommended revisions to carrier charges, fair practices, FMC purview, and other obligations. According to media reports, On Aug 11, congressmen John Garamendi and Dusty Johnson referred the newly formed legislation to the US subcommittee on coast guard and maritime transportation with the following major amendments:

 

  1. Promote US exports for reciprocal trade.
  2. Require international sea cargo carriers to have minimum standards in line with the global shipping industry.
  3. Mandate dock operators and ships to certify that demurrage is in compliance with federal laws.
  4. Transfer demurrage to the carrier or terminal operator instead of the invoiced party.
  5. Allow FMC to investigate best practice violations independently.
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Karyn Booth, who drafted the NITL proposal, stated that the FMC will be able to expedite complaints once the Ocean Shipping Reform Act becomes law. Billy Johnson, chief lobbyist at the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) has also supported the NITL’s proposal adding that it gives the FMC appropriate authority for timely action. 

 

NITL and ISRI are jointly looking forward to the 2021 Act becoming a law in the near term.

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