The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) is seeking public comment on the state of the supply chain, to assess whether ongoing bottlenecks require emergency measures.
Several major container ports on the US East Coast are experiencing elevated levels of congestion since the late-pandemic cargo boom.
The FMC noted that industry participants have tried various strategies to reduce congestion over the past two years, diverting vessel services from the most congested ports.
“This shift, however, has often resulted in increased congestion at previously non- or less-congested US port areas or regions,” reads FMC’s comment request.
“Total US port congestion, measured by the number of containers on ships waiting to berth, average ship waiting time at key US ports and container dwell time have all decreased in recent months. Relevant metrics, however, remain higher than pre-pandemic levels.”
READ: Empty container congestion creates ‘double whammy’
As bottlenecks still pose a threat, the recently enacted Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022 (OSRA) grants special powers to the FMC to issue special emergency measures – which would last up to 60 days with the option to extend the measures.
The FMC will aim to determine if ongoing congestion is having adverse effect on the competitiveness and reliability of the international ocean transportation supply system.
In the second instance, the evaluation will seek to establish if an emergency order would alleviate pressure on the supply chain. The FMC will assess an appropriate scope (duration and geographic) of such an emergency order.
If the Commission issues such order, “common carriers and MTOs would be required to share directly with relevant shippers, rail carriers, or motor carriers’ information relating to cargo throughput and availability”, notes FMC’s latest statement.
Parties involved would have 30 days from the issue of the request to submit data to the Commission.
The news follows recent measures from FMC to meet requirements established by the OSRA. This month, the FMC unveiled a proposed plan for gathering import and export information from the container carrier industry.
In addition, it reorganised its investigative and prosecution functions by creating a new Bureau of Enforcement, Investigations, and Compliance (BEIC).