Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Maritime Commission Okays LA, LB Ports’ Pact

By Mark Edward Nero

On Feb. 26, the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles received approval from the Federal Maritime Commission to cooperate on finding new ways to prevent congestion and cargo delays, improve the transportation network and enhance air quality.

The FMC’s decision now allows the ports to pursue joint projects that they say will strengthen the ports’ ability to remove bottlenecks and move cargo faster and more efficiently.

The newly expanded agreement specifies that the two ports can exchange information on “projects” and “programs” in addition to rates, charges, operating costs, practices and regulations related to marine terminal, trucking, rail and vessel operations.

“With this discussion agreement, the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles can now focus on working together to improve the speed of cargo flow throughout the supply chain,” Port of Long Beach Chief Executive Jon Slangerup said in a prepared statement. “The ports are in a perfect position – and indeed have an obligation – to bring all industry stakeholders together to identify and implement continuous improvements.”

The harbor commissions that oversee the adjoining ports asked the FMC in December to expand existing working agreements in an effort to find long-term solutions to the congestion that had slowed the movement of cargo shipped through Long Beach and Los Angeles in recent months.

Although major ports around the globe have grappled with the same problems, the difficulties have been magnified at LA-Long Beach, which is the busiest harbor complex in North America and handles nearly 40 percent of US cargo. A tentative contract agreement reached Feb. 20 by longshore labor and management has helped however, and the ports are working through the backlog of containers.