Federal Maritime Commissioner Rebecca F. Dye will issue information demand orders regarding ocean carriers’ and marine terminal operators’ (MTOs) detention and demurrage practices, the FMC shared on Feb. 17. The orders will also require carriers and MTOs “to provide information on their policies and practices related to container returns and container availability for exporters,” according to a release from the FMC. The move may increase the pressure on ocean carriers and MTOs, potentially signaling relief for recyclers who are dealing with ocean shipping container delivery delays and charges.

Last March, Commissioner Dye headed a fact-finding investigation (Fact-Finding No. 29) into ocean carriers’ detention and demurrage practices—as well as the shortage of ocean shipping containers—prompted by complaints primarily from shippers in the Los Angeles, Long Beach, New York, and New Jersey ports. The newly announced information demand orders mainly target carriers and MTOs in these same locations.

The information the FMC collects through its demand orders will determine whether ocean carriers and MTOs have violated the “Interpretive Rule on Detention and Demurrage,” which grew out of the fact-finding investigation and became effective May 18, 2020. Those not abiding by the rule could be determined to be violating 46 U.S. Code 41102(c), which establishes an obligation for MTOs, ocean transportation intermediaries, or common carriers to establish, observe, and enforce, just and reasonable practices and regulations related to, or connected with, receiving, handling, storing, or delivering property.

ISRI has requested Commissioner Dye speak to ISRI members about her investigation and hear directly from ISRI members about their experiences with container shortages, says Adina Renee Adler, ISRI’s vice president of advocacy. Adler also encourages members to contact Benjamin K. Trogdan, director of the FMC Bureau of Enforcement, with their complaints and concerns.