Cargo containers pile up at a marine terminal at the Port of Los Angeles.

Cargo containers pile up at a marine terminal at the Port of Los Angeles. Photo courtesy Port of Los Angeles

FMC Reports Progress Implementing Ocean Shipping Reform Act Requirements

Mike Schuler
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July 29, 2022

The U.S. Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) is reporting progress in implementing requirements of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022 (OSRA), which President Biden signed into law in June.

The independent agency, which is repsonisble for regulating competition within the international ocean shipping supply chain, held an open session on Wednesday to update the public on its progress in implementing the law and provide a general summary of the new law’s provisions.

“Rarely does the Congress give an agency a specific to-do list, but here the Congress provided us with explicit tasks with timelines intended to help solve some of the Nation’s supply-chain challenges,” said Chairman Daniel B. Maffei.

The most immediate deadline the FMC must meet is initiating and completing a rulemaking on unreasonable refusal to deal or negotiate on vessel space accommodations. The FMC said Commission staff initiated this rulemaking effort the day OSRA was enacted and a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking public comment is expected to be published “in the immediate future.” The Commission is on track to have a Final Rule in effect by the statutorily mandated deadline of December 2022.

Discussions about the rulemaking on unreasonable refusal to deal were also held in a closed session to allow the Commission to deliberate on policy choices, proposed text, and other internal matters prior to issuing the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

Commissioners were briefed on actions taken to implement provisions of the law that became effective immediately upon enactment, as well as steps being taken to meet the goals of the legislation to heighten enforcement actions and enhance consumer assistance services.

“These are important initiatives that will make a difference to people who depend on the movement of ocean cargo. This is the law of the land. Our job is to implement it and we are well along the way in doing so. Parties who are not compliant are inviting the scrutiny of the Commission and exposing themselves to the consequences for not following the law or acting in a manner inconsistent with the clear direction of Congress,” Maffei added.

 Other requirements of OSRA the Commission has met since the law’s enactment in June include:

Work toward implementing other provisions of the law is in progress and announcements can be soon expected related to:

  • Contracting with the Transportation Research Board to conduct a study and develop best practices for on-terminal or near-terminal chassis pools
  • Issuing request for public comments on potential temporary emergency authority
  • Establishing an interim “one-stop” web-based gateway for submission of comments, complaints, concerns, and requests for investigations to serve as a bridge while a longer-term product is developed.

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