Port authorities advised to give leeway in early days of new weight regulations

The Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) has advised that the new regulations concerning the verification of the gross mass of packed containers, due to come into action on 1 July, should be enforced with a certain amount of leeway for the first three months while early issues are resolved.

A circular on Advice to Administrations, port State control authorities, companies, port terminals and masters regarding the new SOLAS requirements has been agreed by the MSC of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), following discussion.

Concerns were noted with regard to the application of the requirements to a container that was loaded before 1 July 2016 and then transhipped. The Committee also noted delegations’ comments that, in the first few months some leeway should be provided in order for any problems resulting from software updates, required for the electronic collection and transmittal of verified gross mass data, to be rectified without causing delays to containers being loaded.

In this context, the MSC agreed that while there should be no delay in the implementation of the SOLAS requirements, it would be beneficial if Administrations and port State control authorities could take a “practical and pragmatic approach” when enforcing them, for a period of three months immediately following 1 July. This would help ensure that containers that are loaded before 1 July 2016, but transhipped on or after 1 July 2016, reach their final port of discharge without a verified gross mass and it would provide flexibility, for three months immediately after 1 July 2016, to all the stakeholders in containerised transport to refine – where necessary – procedures for documenting, communicating and sharing electronic verified gross mass data.