US maritime regulators approve new rules for intermediaries

US maritime regulators approve new rules for intermediaries

The U.S. Federal Maritime Commission voted 4-1 to change licensing and financial responsibility requirements for ocean transportation intermediaries, despite objections from one commission member.

The new rules, more than two years in the making, require OTIs to renew their licenses online every three years beginning in late 2016. The rules also provide an expedited hearing process for license renewals, revocations, or suspensions.

Commissioner Rebecca Dye voted against the rules change, which she said affected all ocean transportation intermediaries instead of focusing on international household goods movers, a sector that has generated numerous complaints to the commission and resulted in an FMC fact-finding investigation.

"Instead of focusing on the critical problems in the supply chain, this rule focuses on our own internal regulatory challenges and imposes new regulatory requirements on the entire OTI industry without adequate justification,” Dye said in a statement.

“The commercial OTI industry has pointed out to us that real harm to the shipping public originates with international household goods movers. Unfortunately, this rule does not address it,” Dye said. “The industry also points to serious supply chain security problems involving fraud, cargo theft and deceptive-pickup transportation crimes that are not being investigated.”

Dye said she would support FMC action “to address actual harm in the supply chain, and reallocate commission law enforcement resources to address these problems.”

Other commissioners said the rules were revised in response to industry comments on the FMC’s initial proposal, and that the final version was balanced and reasonable.

The commission dropped its original plan to increase financial responsibility requirements that freight forwarders and licensed non-vessel-operating common carriers must meet. The commission also abandoned a plan to create a new license category for NVOs operating only in the household goods market.

“The new OTI rules strike the appropriate balance between our regulatory responsibilities in this vital area of international waterborne commerce, and the mandate President Obama gave us to reduce unnecessary or cumbersome regulations,” said Commissioner Richard Lidinsky. “Unfortunately, there are some who view any level of regulation, or anything less than total deregulation, as burdensome.”

Contact Joseph Bonney at joseph.bonney@ihs.com and follow him on Twitter: @JosephBonney.