July 1st is the first day the Safety of Life at Sea’s (SOLAS) new amendment goes into effect. In less than 70 days, SOLAS will make shippers responsible for the weight of the container and its contents (Verified Gross Mass) before they can be loaded onto an ocean carrier. As of today, there’s still no consensus on how to carry out these rules though some carriers are starting to issue guidance.
SOLAS lays out two methods to obtain the Verified Gross Mass (VGM):
- Weighing the packed container using calibrated and certified equipment; or
- Weighing all packages and cargo items, including pallets, dunnage and other securing material to be packed in the container and adding the tare weight of the container to the sum of the single weights, using a certified method approved by the competent authority of the State in which packing of the container was completed.
It’s important to note that Admiral Thomas of the United States Coast Guard recently reiterated that the Coast Guard will not be enforcing the regulation by penalizing shippers. Instead, the Coast Guard stated that they will continue to have jurisdiction over ocean carriers, and emphasized that shippers and carriers must agree upon business “best practices” to comply.
The “rational” approach advocated by the Agricultural Transportation Coalition (AgTC) is the current method and adheres to the SOLAS principles. Another method is to weigh the container at the ports, but most ports do not have a way to certify the weight. The Port of Los Angeles, Port of Long Beach, and Port of Oakland as well as a majority of ports have already declared that they are “incapable” of weighing and certifying containers to comply with SOLAS. Meanwhile, the Ocean Carrier Equipment Management Association (OCEMA) has released their own “best practices” to comply with SOLAS, which can be viewed here.
AGWorld is in favor of the “rational” approach supplied by AgTC as we make preparations to comply with SOLAS. We’ll keep you informed on new developments with SOLAS’ new rule and how it will ultimately be implemented here in the U.S. Please contact your AGWorld representative with any questions and concerns on SOLAS’ rule and how it may affect your shipments.
Photo courtesy of Ingrid Taylar