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Shipping Regulator Calls for Delay in Container-Weight Enforcement

International Maritime Organization says ‘practical and pragmatic’ three-month grace period would calm exporter fears of widespread backup, the WSJ reports.

The top global shipping regulator, trying to quiet industry alarms over impending rules that exporters fear will trigger widespread backups at ports, is recommending a three-month grace period for enforcing the ship-safety rule.

The International Maritime Organization’s Maritime Safety Committee said in a statement Monday that government agencies should postpone enforcement of the requirement that shippers verify the weight of containers before they can be loaded to give operators more time to put together the systems needed to meet the mandate.
The IMO, the arm of the United Nations that regulates shipping safety, said it recognizes the concerns raised about the new rule, which will require shippers to report the “verified gross mass” of every container before it’s loaded onto a ship, starting July 1.

The rule, aimed at preventing accidents at sea caused by improperly loaded and unbalanced stacks of shipping containers, has triggered confusion as shipping lines and their customers have argued over fundamental details such as how containers can be weighed and how shippers can notify the ocean carriers that the weights are verified.
Drewry Shipping Consultants Ltd. released a survey of shipping customers and providers on Monday that showed “much confusion” over how the requirements can be met, and strong belief that exports will be delayed.

The IMO said in its statement that “some leeway” on enforcement would give companies time to refine procedures and work out any problems, such as glitches in new software being developed by carriers to electronically collect weight information.

“While there should be no delay in the implementation of the SOLAS requirements, it would be beneficial if Administrations and port State control authorities could take a ‘practical and pragmatic approach’ when enforcing them, for a period of three months” following the rule’s effective date, the IMO said.

Article source: WSJ

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