The draft amendment outlines two separate methods for verifying container weights as proposed by shipping companies and governments. Under the compromise proposals, shippers can either weigh a packed container or weigh all packages and cargoes before adding the tare mass of an empty container.
Double-checking the weight of containers to be loaded aboard ships is seen as the solution to shipping accidents that are caused by misdeclared container weights.
The two proposals have found support from the Global Shippers Forum and the World Shipping Council (WSC), which lauded their approval on September 20 by the IMO’s Subcommittee on Dangerous Goods, Solid Cargoes and Containers .
“We have worked with the IMO to address the problem of incorrect container weights for over six years and now with the input of many governments and industry organizations, including responsible shipper associations, we are pleased that the SOLAS [Safety of Life at Sea] amendments and related implementation guidelines have been approved by the DSC,” said WSC president and CEO Chris Koch in a statement.
He added, “We look forward to approval by the Maritime Safety Committee in May 2014 and the final adoption in November 2014. The container shipping industry will continue to work with all supply chain stakeholders on the processes necessary to ensure smooth implementation, which could occur in July 2016.”
In contrast, the Asian Shippers’ Council, the European Shippers’ Council, the European and international freight forwarders associations (FIATA and CLECAT), and the European representation of maritime terminals and stevedores (FEPORT) have opposed the proposals, pushing instead for vetting the quality of data transfer among shippers, forwarders, customs personnel, and carriers as a better way to minimize shipping disasters.