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FMC Hears Proposals Addressing Supply Chain and Cruise Issues

Recommendations to address ongoing port and supply chain congestion, and proposed changes to agency regulations related to refunds for cancelled cruise ship voyages, were topics addressed during the open session of a Federal Maritime Commission meeting held today.

Commissioner Rebecca F. Dye provided the Commission with Interim Recommendations to address current conditions contributing to inefficiencies and congestion in the freight delivery system due to impacts associated with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Commissioner Dye, who serves as the Fact Finding Officer for Fact Finding 29, presented a set of eight Interim Recommendations for actions the FMC can take to address many of the most common problems she has identified through her work. The recommendations are aimed at minimizing barriers to private party enforcement of the Shipping Act, clarifying Commission and industry processes, encouraging shippers, truckers, and other stakeholders to assist Commission enforcement efforts, and bolstering the ability of the Office of Consumer Affairs and Dispute Resolution Services to facilitate fair and fast dispute resolution. Commissioner Dye also reported that she plans to hold meetings of Supply Chain Innovation Teams in Memphis and the Port of Los Angeles to address supply chain disruptions and increase supply chain visibility.

Commissioner Carl W. Bentzel provided a summary of his examination of container and chassis manufacturing and the availability of intermodal equipment to support US international containerized trade. The Commissioner noted that congestion and increased demand for equipment has led to shortages of chassis and containers in the United States and other nations as well. This demand has led to increased prices for new intermodal equipment. Commissioner Bentzel plans on completing his work by September.

The final item covered in the open session of the meeting Commission was a briefing by staff on proposed changes to agency regulations governing “non-performance” of transportation by Passenger Vessel Operators and circumstances under which cruise passengers can receive refunds for cancelled voyages. The Commission is contemplating a slate of amendments that will establish a new definition of “non-performance”, changing how cruise lines treat unearned passenger revenue and establishing a new process for obtaining refunds. The Commission will vote on this matter at a later date.

The Commission received in closed session an update on an agency investigation into Conditions Created by Canadian Ballast Water Regulations in the U.S./Canada Great Lakes Trade.