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Senate Letter Urges Review of SOLAS

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

(North American Meat Institute)

Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation Chairman John Thune (R-SD) sent a letter to Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) Chairman Mario Cordero requesting that FMC immediately examine the implications of the verified gross mass (VGM) amendment to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) for U.S. shippers and the nation's supply chain. In the letter, Thune underscored concerns raised by stakeholders, who note the VGM amendment could result in the backup of cargo at U.S. ports as soon as the amendment takes effect on July 1, 2016. Thune stressed the ongoing uncertainty that exists for shippers, given the differing interpretations of SOLAS held by the Ocean Carrier Equipment Management Association and the U.S. Coast Guard. The Coast Guard previously affirmed existing U.S. laws and regulations for providing verified container weights are equivalent to the requirements in SOLAS.

In addition to calling for a review of the amendment's implications, Thune asked FMC to report on current and planned practices of affected businesses, and on the extent to which actions by ocean carriers and terminal operators are consistent with the laws and regulations under the FMC's jurisdiction. Thune also requested that FMC schedule a briefing with the Committee to discuss its findings.

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