FMC Clears Trans-Pacific Carriers to Talk Environment

FMC Clears Trans-Pacific Carriers to Talk Environment

The Federal Maritime Commission has given members of the carrier discussion group in the eastbound Pacific the authority to talk about strategies intended to reduce air emissions, water pollution and fuel consumption.

A key strategy that members of the Transpacific Stabilization Agreement will discuss in future meetings is the slow steaming of vessels. Carriers in recent months have begun to steam at speeds as low as 18 knots in order to reduce pollution and to cut down on fuel consumption.

The TSA, a discussion group with 15 member lines, has immunity from U.S. anti-trust laws to meet and discuss issues relating to freight rates and surcharges. The discussion group has no enforcement powers. However, TSA regularly issues non-binding, voluntary guidelines developed from meetings of its members.

Until now, TSA did not request permission to discuss environmental issues, but carriers are coming under increasing pressure from local, state and federal governments and from international bodies to reduce harmful diesel emissions from vessels.

Slow steaming of vessels is one strategy that has produced immediate benefits. Reducing vessel speed from 25 knots to 18 knots cuts carbon dioxide emissions by more than 350 tons per day.

Slow-steaming also reduces vessel operating costs. Steaming at 18 knots cuts bunker fuel consumption by 60 percent.

However, slow steaming creates scheduling problems, and collaboration with other carriers is needed when carriers operate within vessel-sharing arrangements. VSAs became quite popular the past several years as carriers attempted to maintain service levels while reducing operational costs.

With the authority granted by the FMC, the members of the TSA intend to discuss slow steaming and other measures designed to reduce air and water pollution. The lines intend to share best practices in this area.

Contact Bill Mongelluzzo at