Set rule on mandatory container weighing
The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has agreed to examine how to solve the problem of mis-declared container weights.
At a meeting last week, the UN shipping bodys Maritime Safety Committee agreed to a proposal from the Netherlands, Denmark and Australia to address the issue of incorrectly declared containerised cargo and to take other measures to improve the safety of container stowage and ship operations.
The news was welcomed by the World Shipping Council (WSC), a carrier group that claims its members control 90% of international containerised trade, and the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS).
The groups said they hoped the IMOs decision would help save lives, reduce cargo losses and improve operational efficiency.
In a joint statement, the two groups said: The WSC and ICS, along with many IMO member states and representative bodies for seafarers, dockworkers and masters, support this initiative that demonstrates the compelling need to address the problem.
Verification of actual container weight before vessel loading and the availability of the actual container weights for proper and safe stowage planning will mark a long overdue and important improvement in industry safety.
They added that they looked forward to assisting the IMO to create a new set of requirements to accomplish this as soon as possible.
However, the problem will not be solved until there is a legal requirement to verify container weights before containers are loaded onto ships, they added.
In countries that require loaded containers to be weighed before vessel stowage for export, the evidence overwhelmingly indicates that operations can proceed very efficiently without any disruption to commerce.
The shipping industry is optimistic that the IMOs decision to [look at ways to] make this an international requirement will save lives, reduce cargo losses and improve operational efficiency for all concerned.
The industry has been seeking a solution to the problem of mis-declared container weights for years and in 2008 a group of shipping organisations issued a paper entitled Safe Transport of Containers by Sea, Guidelines on Industry Best Practices.
But in December last year, the WSC dismissed the paper, claiming it had little discernible effect on reducing the incidences of shippers providing incorrect container weights, or on ensuring that marine terminals verify the weight of loaded containers upon receipt/prior to loading.