U.S. Federal Maritime Commission Says Port Congestion is Top Priority in 2015

Container ships sit in berths at the Port of Los Angeles, California October 15, 2014. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Container ships sit in berths at the Port of Los Angeles, California October 15, 2014. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

The U.S. Federal Maritime Commission has marked congestion at the Nation’s ports as its top priority in 2015.

In an announcement to staff, FMC Chairman Mario Cordero said that his top priority for the Commission in 2015 is addressing the congestion issues that have been plaguing U.S. ports. Starting in September 2014, FMC Commissioners led public forums concerning port congestion and international supply chain efficiency issues, which the Chairman noted is in keeping with the Commission’s 2014-2018 Strategic Plan.

Chairman Cordero stated, “Among the Commission’s statutory goals is the assurance of an efficient ocean transportation system. The efficient operation of the Nation’s ports is squarely within that mandate and paramount to the Commission’s responsibilities. As we move forward, I look forward to a thorough review of the issues and views that have been provided from various maritime industry stakeholders. The FMC will continue its role in protecting the shipping public and addressing unreasonable or unjust practices by carriers or marine terminal operators.”

U.S. West Coast ports have been hit with unprecedented congestion over the past several months in part because of stalled contract negations between the Pacific Maritime Association, representing employers at 29 West Coast ports, and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), representing some 20,000 dockworkers, after a previous six-year labor pact between the two expired on July 1. The PMA has accused the ILWU of orchestrating worker slowdowns at the five largest ports on the West Coast, although the union denies it. A federal mediator is currently involved in the negotiations.

During the peak shipping season leading up to the holidays, a shortage of equipment needed to move containerized cargo and a lack of available space at ports such as the Los Angeles and Long Beach port complex was also considered a major source of congestion.

Full Coverage: West Coast Port Congestion