The World Shipping Council (WSC) is urging the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to adopt the compromise solutions arrived at by 15 governments and 13 industry groups that make mandatory the verification of container weights in order to improve maritime safety.
The WSC, an association of global liner shipping companies whose members operate about 90 percent of the global liner ship capacity, said misdeclared container weights have long posed safety hazards for ships, their crews, other cargo on board, workers in the port facilities handling containers, and on roads.
It also blamed incorrectly declared weights for causing incorrect ship stowage and accidents, facilitating unlawful evasion of Customs tariffs and duties, and impairing Customs authorities’ ability to perform accurate cargo security risk assessment.
“The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is on the verge of addressing this recognized and documented safety problem,” the WSC said in a media release. “The collective work and agreement of 15 governments and 13 industry groups have forged a compromise solution for the IMO’s consideration in mid-September. This compromise should be adopted as a long-needed improvement to maritime safety.”
The council said the solution arrived at is that “the way to solve this problem is to require a packed container’s weight to be verified before the container is loaded onto a ship.”
The technology exists to verify container weights without delays or significant costs to commerce, the WSC insisted.
These governments and industry groups, which collectively made up the IMO Correspondence Group, have come up with an amendment to the SOLAS Convention for the mandatory verification of gross weight of containers and the guidelines for implementing such requirements.
The final compromise proposal allows for two methods to verify containers’ weights, but all methods used must provide reliable weight verification, said WSC.
Similarly the Global Shippers’ Forum (GSF) called on governments to support the compromise proposals for verifying the container weights to be considered at the IMO Sub-Committee on Dangerous Goods, Solid Cargoes and Containers at the forthcoming IMO meeting to start on September 16, 2013.
The GSF believes the compromise proposal, which includes two methods for verification, is the “best possible outcome” for shippers and the maritime industry, as it provides a flexible and workable solution which can be adopted by industry without significant cost or delays in the supply chain.
In addition, the GSF stated that it was pleased with the provision of a second method of verification, which will allow shippers to use a calculated option whereby the shipper can weigh all packages and cargo items including pallets, dunnage, and tare of the container.
“GSF maintains that the majority of shippers act responsibly and comply with their responsibilities to make accurate cargo declarations,” the statement read. “However, a number of recent incidents have highlighted that weight misdeclarations may be on the rise. We believe that the IMO Correspondence Group proposals are sensible and proportionate and will lead to improved operational performance and enhanced safety within the maritime supply chain.”