The open session of Wednesday’s meeting of the Federal Maritime Commission provided the public with an accounting of the progress being made implementing the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022 (OSRA) and a general summary of the new law’s provisions.
The Commission reports it is moving expeditiously to fulfill the requirements of the new law. The most immediate deadline the Commission must meet is initiating and completing a rulemaking on unreasonable refusal to deal or negotiate on vessel space accommodations. Commission staff initiated this rulemaking effort the day OSRA was enacted and a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking public comment is expected to be published in the immediate future. The Commission is on track to have a Final Rule in effect by the statutorily mandated deadline of December 2022.
“Rarely does the Congress give an agency a specific to-do list, but here the Congress provided us with explicit tasks with timelines intended to help solve some of the Nation’s supply-chain challenges. These are important initiatives that will make a difference to people who depend on the movement of ocean cargo. This is the law of the land. Our job is to implement it and we are well along the way in doing so. Parties who are not compliant are inviting the scrutiny of the Commission and exposing themselves to the consequences for not following the law or acting in a manner inconsistent with the clear direction of Congress,” said Chairman Daniel B. Maffei.
Discussions about the rulemaking on unreasonable refusal to deal were also held in a closed session to allow the Commission to deliberate on policy choices, proposed text, and other internal matters prior to issuing the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.
Commissioners were briefed on actions taken to implement provisions of the law that became effective immediately upon enactment, as well as steps being taken to meet the goals of the legislation to heighten enforcement actions and enhance consumer assistance services. Other requirements of OSRA the Commission has met since the law’s enactment in June include:
Establishing an interim process for submitting Charge Complaints.
Placing trade on notice that self-executing provisions of OSRA were in immediate effect, simultaneously publishing an opinion of the General Counsel on the issue.
Placing trade on notice that common carriers are required to immediately comply with detention and demurrage billing practices.
Initiating hiring actions to enhance investigatory capacity by adding nine additional staff in key functions.
Publishing the Fact Finding 29 Final Report; and,
Maintaining an Office of Consumer Affairs and Dispute Resolution Services and enhancing its capabilities.
Work toward implementing other provisions of the law is in progress and announcements can be soon expected related to:
Contracting with the Transportation Research Board to conduct a study and develop best practices for on-terminal or near-terminal chassis pools
Issuing request for public comments on potential temporary emergency authority
Establishing an interim “one-stop” web-based gateway for submission of comments, complaints, concerns, and requests for investigations to serve as a bridge while a longer-term product is developed.
Press Release from Federal Maritime Commission