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Ports and Carriers United on the Need to Weigh Loaded Containers

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The International Association of Ports and Harbors (IAPH) has joined with the World Shipping Council (WSC), the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), and BIMCO in the effort to encourage the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to amend the Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS) to require, as a condition for stowing a loaded container on board a ship, that the ship and the port facility have a verified actual weight of the container.  All four organizations have consultative status at the IMO.

The announcement comes as the IMO’s Dangerous Goods, Solid Cargoes and Containers (DSC) subcommittee, which is responsible for improving the safety of container stowage and ships operations, continues its efforts to construct a SOLAS requirement that loaded export containers have a verified weight prior to vessel loading.  As instructed by the IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee (MSC), DSC will consider such a requirement at its next session in September 2012 (DSC 17).
“Weighing containers to confirm their actual weight is the right operational and safety practice. There is substantial experience with such a requirement in the United States demonstrating that this is feasible on a technological and commercial basis.  It is time to make this a global safety practice and our association will assist its members in cooperating with terminal operators to develop a suitable and effective process, “ said Dr. Geraldine Knatz, president of IAPH and executive director of the Port of Los Angeles.

“We very much welcome and appreciate IAPH’s support of this initiative.  The tide is clearly running in support of this most important enhancement to maritime safety, “ said Peter Hinchliffe, Secretary General of ICS.
“Having the actual weights of containers improves safety aboard ships, safety in the ports, and safety on the roads. There is no sound reason to continue the willful toleration of ignorance about cargo containers’ actual weights.  IAPH support of this initiative is a positive development, “ said Torben Skaanild, Secretary General of BIMCO.

“Shippers today are legally obligated to provide accurate weights of containers after they have stuffed them with cargo, but there are many instances where their weight declarations are erroneous.  An accident involving an incorrect container weight declaration can create potential liabilities for the shipper and others handling the container.  Having verified weights of loaded containers will reduce errors and risk, and will eliminate the guesswork from the business for all parties involved, “ said Christopher Koch, president of WSC.
All four organizations noted that governments around the world continue to focus on obtaining more complete knowledge of what is actually in cargo containers arriving in their countries, and that Customs authorities would welcome having accurate cargo weights as they screen import cargoes.  “This is another example of industry cooperation and initiative that will increase governments’ confidence in maritime commerce, “ said Dr. Knatz.

WSC, ICS, BIMCO, IAPH and other industry parties and interested governments will consult during 2012 about the development of recommended guidelines for how to implement the container weighing requirement.

The attached examples  demonstrate the extent to which misdeclared container weights can exist in today’s shipping operations.  This is a problem which can only be addressed through the requirement to verify the weight of all loaded containers prior to stowing aboard a ship. (See Synopsis of misdeclared container weight incidents 120711.doc attached).
ABOUT THE INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF PORTS AND HARBORS (IAPH):  IAPH is a global alliance of ports, representing some 230 ports in about 90 countries. Together, the IAPH member ports handle well over 60 percent of the world’s sea-borne trade and nearly 80 percent of the world’s container traffic. For more information about the International Association of Ports and Harbors, visit www.iaphworldports.org .
ABOUT BIMCO: BIMCO represents ship-owners controlling around 65 percent of the world’s tonnage, with members in more than 120 countries drawn from a broad range of stakeholders with an interest in the shipping industry that includes managers, brokers and agents. For more information about BIMCO, visit www.bimco.org .
ABOUT THE INTERNATIONAL CHAMBER OF SHIPPING (ICS): The International Chamber of Shipping is the representative body for the global shipping industry. Its member national shipowner associations operate about 80 percent of the world merchant fleet. For more information about the International Chamber of Shipping, visit www.ics-shipping.org .
ABOUT THE WORLD SHIPPING COUNCIL (WSC):  The World Shipping Council is an association of liner shipping companies with offices in Brussels and Washington, D.C.  Its members operate approximately 90 percent of the global liner ship capacity, providing more than 400 regularly scheduled services linking the continents of the world. Collectively, these services transport about 60 percent of the value of global seaborne trade, or more than US$ 4 trillion worth of goods annually. For more information about the World Shipping Council, visit www.worldshipping.org .

Appendix- Synopsis of misdeclared container weight incidents

IAPH support for container weighing for release

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