Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Illegal Drugs from California Intercepted

By Karen Robes Meeks

Six people were arrested earlier this year by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers for their alleged involvement in an illegal drug shipment at the Los Angeles/Long Beach seaport.

According to the release, Australian agents assigned to the Joint Organized Crime Task Force (JOCTF) told Homeland Security Investigations special agents about a “planned large-scale drug importation by a suspected drug smuggling group operating out of California.”

CBP authorities discovered the drugs, concealed inside fake loudspeakers, in two containers bound for Australia on Jan. 11. This investigation led to the arrest of two US and four Australian citizens by the Australian Federal Police (AFP).

“This is the biggest ever seizure of methamphetamine – more than 1.7 tons – stopped before it had a chance to reach Australian streets,” said AFP National Manager Organized Crime Assistant Commissioner Bruce Hill. “The JOCTF investigation demonstrated the effectiveness of Australian and international authorities working together to stamp out illicit drug importation, and I wish to thank our US counterparts for their expert involvement in this investigation.”

The seizure consisted of 3,810 pounds of methamphetamine, 55.9 pounds of cocaine, and 11.5 pounds of heroin.

“This is an extraordinary example of the superb and effective collaboration between CBP, HSI and our Australian law enforcement partners in targeting an international high-scale narcotics operation, and the unity of effort in protecting our communities from the irreversible harm of harsh drugs like methamphetamine,” said Carlos C. Martel, CBP director of Field Operations in Los Angeles.

Oakland Imports Rise

By Karen Robes Meeks

The Port of Oakland handled 81,895 TEUs of imported cargo last month, a nine percent jump from January 2018, making it the busiest January on record for imports. It marks six straight months of rising imports, according to the port.

Officials credited the surge to US shippers rushing products into the country because of the worry about future Chinese tariff increases and importers stocking up on goods before Asian factories close to celebrate the annual Lunar New Year. Asia is Oakland’s biggest trade market.

“Concern over international trade issues has driven unprecedented import volume,” said Port of Oakland Maritime Director John Driscoll. “We’re watching closely to see what happens next.”

SOLAS Discrepancies Bring Vessel Detentions

By Karen Robes Meeks

Seven foreign vessels have been detained since November 2018 after the US Coast Guard found compliance discrepancies with the International Maritime Organization Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) multilateral treaty during Port State Control exams, the agency announced Wednesday.

The latest detention took place after Marine Safety Unit Portland examiners found 100 inoperable carbon dioxide cylinders, which are needed to extinguish fires in the vessel’s machinery space or cargo holds.

“The Coast Guard maintains the safety of the port by preventing damage to property or the marine environment,” said Capt. Tom Griffitts, commanding officer, Marine Safety Unit Portland. “Inspectors from our unit do a great job of identifying major non-conformities aboard vessels and through this identification we ensure vessels are safe, secure, and environmentally sound to transit the complex Columbia River System.”

New LA Port Policy Director

By Karen Robes Meeks

Jennifer Cohen is the Port of Los Angeles’ new director of Policy and Legislative Affairs. She recently worked as director of government affairs for the Los Angeles Department of Transportation.

In her new role, effective Feb. 25, Cohen will oversee the port’s legislative team, help develop the port’s local, state, federal and international policy priorities and communicate with the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, the Los Angeles City Council and other governmental and regulatory agencies, according to the port.

“As the busiest port in [the] nation, the Port of Los Angeles has a major interest in assuring that public policy and government initiatives support our business priorities and needs,” said Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka. “We are thrilled to have someone of Jennifer’s caliber and expertise on board to guide our legislative and government affairs efforts.”

Previously, she was the main liaison to the L.A. City Council and managed state and federal government and regulatory affairs at the Southern California Regional Rail Authority.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Record Box Numbers in San Pedro

By Karen Robes Meeks

The nation’s two busiest seaports, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, posted record or near record cargo numbers last month, the ports announced Wednesday.

Los Angeles had its busiest January ever, moving 852,449 TEUs, a 5.4 percent increase from the same period last year. It also represents the seventh straight month in which the port moves more than 800,000 TEUs.

"These robust volumes reflect the pre-Lunar New Year surge of cargo, continued tariff-related inventory advances and strong consumer demand,” said Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka. “With warehouses and distribution centers already full with spring goods and supplies, we will see softer volumes immediately after the Lunar New Year as anticipated.” The port handled 429,923 TEUs in imports, a 1.7 percent increase from January 2018, while it moved 144,993 TEUs in exports, a 3.4 percent drop for the same period.

Meanwhile, Long Beach tallied 657,286 TEUs, 0.1 percent lower than January 2018, which stands as the port’s busiest January. “It’s encouraging to see these healthy volumes to start the year,” said Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero. “As long as the economy is performing well, we expect our container trade to mirror it. Regardless, the Port will continue to focus on delivering operational excellence, working with ocean carriers, terminals, truckers, labor, cargo owners and all of our many stakeholders.”

Long Beach also registered 323,838 TEUs in imports a 0.3 percent decrease compare to January 2018 and 117,288 TEUs in exports, a 2.7 percent drop.

“While it will be a challenge to top last year, when we moved the most cargo in our 108-year history, we do anticipate modest growth in 2019,” said Long Beach Harbor Commission President Tracy Egoscue. “The Commission would like to wish our supply chain partners in Asia a happy Lunar New Year, and prosperous months ahead.”

Bellingham, Lummi Reach Accord

By Karen Robes Meeks

The Port of Bellingham and Lummi Nation announced on Wednesday, Feb. 13 that they have reached a landmark agreement that will go a long way in settling long-standing issues that have affected the Lummi Nation’s fishing grounds and stations.

In the region’s early days before the port existed, white settlers began dredging Bellingham Bay and Drayton Harbor for development, a move that ruined “valuable finfish and shellfish habitat and created a permanent obstruction to Lummi fishing areas protected by the Point Elliot Treaty of 1855 with the Federal Government,” according to the port, which now owns/operated the areas affected by these changes.

Instead of going to court, the port and the Lummi Nation decided to work on an agreement, allowing the port to maintain and upgrade its in-water facilities while providing the Lummi Nation with vessel moorage in Squalicum and Blaine Harbors for their fishing fleet.

“This agreement sets the stage for a new era of cooperation and economic prosperity. The port and Lummi Nation are working collaboratively to not only increase the number of salmon in local waters, but to also increase public understanding of the Lummi Nation’s treaty rights and cultural heritage,” noted the port.

Marina Wins Award

By Karen Robes Meeks

The Port of Los Angeles-owned and Westrec Marinas-operated Cabrillo Way Marina has earned a 2018 Boaters’ Choice Award by marinas.com. The announcement was made Tuesday, Feb. 12.

The Boaters’ Choice Awards are based on audience reviews posted on marinas.com. Boaters praised the Cabrillo Way Marina’s helpful staff, cleanliness, new docks, and ease and accessibility of the slips.

“Marinas are the very first point of visibility and experience for most boaters,” said Westrec President Bill Anderson. “Setting a high bar to ensure their experience keeps them coming back and out on the water is one of Westrec’s primary mandates.”

Located south of 22nd and Miner streets, the 700-slip Cabrillo Way Marina encompasses 87 acres of land and water in the West Channel/Cabrillo Beach Recreational Complex, which includes a public waterfront promenade.

The $147.6 million marina was completed in 2011 and represented the port’s biggest non-terminal construction project at the time.

“Between 2005 and 2025 the Port of Los Angeles is investing more than $1 billion in the LA Waterfront, with approximately $700 million already spent,” said Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka. “The Cabrillo Way Marina is a great example of how that investment continues to provide significant benefits to the community.”