Friday, May 4, 2018

Produce Numbers Up at Oakland

By Karen Robes Meeks

The amount of containerized produce cargo moving through the Port of Oakland has risen 36 percent since 2013, a number that is likely to grow as Oakland augments its capacity to handle this type of cargo, according to the port.

“This is high-value cargo that has to be handled carefully and shipped promptly,” said Port Maritime Director John Driscoll. “Growth in our volume would indicate that we’re doing the job effectively.”

Oakland moved approximately $6.1 billion worth of containerized fruit and vegetable shipments last year, the equivalent of 135,000 TEUs. Four years ago, the port handled less than 80,000 containers.

Exports accounted for 103,000 containers of the port’s 2017 fresh fruit and vegetable cargo volume, with oranges and grapes among its leading export commodities. Top export markets included Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong, according to the port.

To expand its temperature-controlled cargo capabilities, refrigerated exports are mainly being delivered at night to Oakland’s largest marine terminal to ensure quicker delivery, while the port’s second-largest terminal is adding hundreds of spaces for refrigerated containers to plug in this summer.

EPA Grant for Port, South Seattle

By Karen Robes Meeks

The South Park and Georgetown community and the Port of Seattle will team up for a $175,000 EPA Stakeholder Engagement and Capacity Building technical assistance grant.

“The Port of Seattle is committed to our involvement in supporting near-port communities that have taken the brunt of environmental impacts from many sources for decades,” said Commission President Courtney Gregoire. “We understand that for our region to be vibrant and prosperous, we have to consider historic inequities that continue to bar some communities from sharing our economic opportunities. This project has been a great opportunity for us to think differently and take action to be part of the solution.”

The project seeks to improve environmental and community relations with the port, with an eye towards a long-term Community Benefits Agreement and Good Neighbor Strategic Plan.

“We look forward to work with the port to address important, mutually beneficial needs, such as better community engagement strategies and improved environmental health,” said Andrew Schiffer, a Georgetown representative on the project. “By the end of this project, the community hopes to have a Community Benefits Agreement established, a pact between the Port and Duwamish Valley residents to reduce inequities and ensure we receive our share in the benefits the Port provides for our county as a whole.”

New Matson Boardmember

By Karen Robes Meeks

At Matson Inc.’s annual shareholders’ meeting last week, it was announced that Servco Pacific Inc. Chairman and CEO Mark H. Fukunaga had been elected as a new member of the Honolulu-based company’s Board of Directors.

“We are excited to welcome Mark Fukunaga as the newest member of the Matson board and know that his demonstrated business leadership and deep roots in our community further strengthen an already experienced board,” Matson Chairman and CEO Matt Cox said.

Cox also announced that the board's independent directors have designated Stanley M. Kuriyama to be lead independent director, replacing Jeffrey N. Watanabe, who retired from the board.

“Speaking on behalf of our entire board and the executive leadership team at Matson, we owe a deep debt of gratitude to Jeff (Watanabe) and thank him for his 15 years of service and strong guidance during a very important period in our company's 136-year history,” Cox said.

Long Beach Commissioner Receives Key to City

By Karen Robes Meeks

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia recently honored Carmen Perez, the first Latino woman to be part of the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners, by presenting her with a key to the city.

Perez is known for her advocacy and deep community and political ties. She had a 12-year tenure on the commission, serving from 1991 to 2003. During that period, Gov. Gray Davis appointed her to the California World Trade Commission and she was also on the Board of Directors of the Pacific Coast Association of Port Authorities.

She was Los Angeles County Supervisor Kenneth Hahn’s Assistant Chief Deputy and vice chair for the Democratic National Party.

Perez is a founding member of the American Diabetes Association’s Long Beach Chapter, the Long Beach Mujeres Coalition and the founder and first president of the Long Beach Chicano Political Caucus, according to her Port of Long Beach bio.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Seattle Expects Record Cruisers

By Karen Robes Meeks

The Port of Seattle is on its way to another record cruise season with the recent first ship arrival of Norwegian Cruise Line Sun and the upcoming May 30 arrival of the Norwegian Cruise Line Bliss and its 4,000 passengers.

Port officials anticipate over 1.1 million revenue cruise passengers this year, making it the West Coast’s biggest cruise port for the second straight year. They are attributing the higher passenger counts in part to bigger cruise vessels bound for Alaska.

“The Port of Seattle welcomes the cruise season every year, as it provides more than half a billion in economic value to our region,” said Port of Seattle Commission President Courtney Gregoire. “These dollars reach businesses of all sizes, and we look forward to having more visitors stay and enjoy the beautiful state of Washington.”

Port of Seattle Commission recently approved the Port Valet program, a complimentary cruise luggage program that enables cruise passengers to obtain their airline boarding pass and check their bags before departing the cruise ship, so they can explore Seattle before flying home.

“Port Valet is a wonderful way for visitors to leave their baggage and explore the great things Seattle has to offer,” said Tom Norwalk, CEO of Visit Seattle. “You can visit Pike Place Market, see the Space Needle, or even taste some wine in Woodinville before catching your flight home.”

Tariff Concerns at Northwest Seaport Alliance

By Karen Robes Meeks

Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWSA) CEO John Wolfe recently stood before the US House Ways and Means Committee to talk about the effects of US tariff policy on the local and national economy.

“We are deeply invested in US trade policy discussions because they directly impact our core business, the success of our customers and the lives of our local residents,” he said.

Marine cargo operations at the ports of Seattle and Tacoma support more than 48,000 jobs, while Sea-Tac’s air cargo operations help create more than 5,200 jobs, Wolfe said. “The port and NWSA gateways are truly national assets, with more than 60 percent of the goods imported through the NWSA destined for the rest of the country,” he noted.

Wolfe cited examples, such as the $2.5 billion worth of industrial and electric machinery imports that move through Seattle/Tacoma ports into Illinois, while Ohio and Indiana respectively import $1.9 billion and $1.2 billion worth of these products through his ports. Last year, he added, Seattle/Tacoma exported $1.89 billion in soybeans to China even though none are grown in Washington State.

“While there are justifiable concerns about China’s trade practices, we continue to believe that productive engagement and negotiations are the best path to ensuring a fair and level playing field for mutually beneficial trade,” Wolfe said. “The US must be clear on the desired remedies sought, and then tariffs should be a measure of last resort that are narrowly targeted to address the problem and minimize the unintended impacts on Americans. While it is impossible to truly estimate the impact of these tariffs, roughly $8 billion in two-way trade through our airport and seaport will potentially face some level of increased tariff.”

Port of Los Angeles Projects Honored

By Karen Robes Meeks

The Port of Los Angeles recently earned a pair of Project Achievement Awards for outstanding construction management practices from the Southern California Chapter of the Construction Management Association of America (CMAA).

The port received the honors for the Berths 142-143 Backland Improvements project, which involved building 15 automated stacking blocks for the newly completed TraPac Container Terminal.

In another category, the Berth 214-220 redevelopment project at the YTI Container Terminal also won. That project included dredging, adding Alternative Maritime Power® connections and installing fire hydrants and removing utilities.

The awards were given at the CMAA Southern California Chapter Annual Awards Gala in downtown Los Angeles.

Hueneme Helps Habitat for Humanity

By Karen Robes Meeks

Port of Hueneme employees and Habitat for Humanity recently joined forces to construct six new homes in the La Colonia community of Oxnard, California.

“It is the port’s honor to be able to partner with such a compassionate organization to effect positive change in our community,” said Oxnard Harbor District Board President Mary Anne Rooney. “It is our top priority to serve the local constituents of our District, and I am grateful we were able to do so in this unique way.”

The Ventura County Habitat for Humanity chapter has completed 70 homes so far.

“It’s a great day when we can connect with our community,” CEO and Port Director Kristin Decas said. “Building these houses will impact the lives of these families for generations to come, and I commend the Port team for their part in this positive story.”

Those receiving new houses help by putting in the sweat equity on their own and other Habitat homes, as well as working in Habitat for Humanity ReStores.