FMC Seeks Comment on Three Advance Notices of Rulemaking and Finalizes a Fourth - Federal Maritime Commission
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FMC Seeks Comment on Three Advance Notices of Rulemaking and Finalizes a Fourth

February 18, 2016
NR 16-03

Contact: Karen V. Gregory, Secretary, (202) 523-5725

The Commission voted at its meeting today to issue three advance notices of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) and looks forward to industry and public comment on possible revisions to its rules concerning ocean common carrier and marine terminal agreements, service contracts, non-vessel-operating common carrier (NVOCC) service arrangements, and fees for Commission services. The Commission also voted to issue a final rule implementing Commissioner term limits and the attorney’s fees provisions of the Howard Coble Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2014. Review of the agreement and service contract rules was initiated in response to President Obama’s call in Executive Order 13579 to conduct a retrospective review of existing regulations.

Ocean Common Carrier and Marine Terminal Operator Agreements

The public will have 30 days to comment on the ANPR to address several areas of concern. The Commission is considering a clarification to the definition of capacity rationalization and application of the low-market share exemption from the 45-day waiting period for filed agreements and amendments. Comment is sought on the value and burden of requiring terminal services agreements to be confidentially provided to the Commission. Other areas of interest include “complete and definite” agreements, revision of the information form and monitoring report requirements, information disclosure in the agreement review process, as well as a number of clarifying amendments. It was also announced that the Commission is in the process of developing a system to allow electronic filing of agreements.

Service Contract and NVOCC Service Arrangement Rules

The public will have 30 days to comment on the Commission’s service contract and NVOCC service arrangement rules. The Commission is interested in hearing from the public on the possibility of allowing 30 days after the effective date for filing of any service contract amendment. As well, the ANPR discusses potential clarification of certain Commission rules and focuses on leveraging technology to relieve burden, including use of web services and automated NVOCC status updates for service contract filers.

Coble Act Amendments

This final rule will implement statutory amendments that limit Commissioners’ terms and permit attorney fees to be awarded to the prevailing party in any complaint proceeding brought under the Shipping Act. The Commission will rely on relevant federal case law in determining whether a party has “prevailed” in a proceeding, and when deciding attorney fee petitions, will consider whether an award is consistent with the purposes of the Shipping Act. At this time, the Commission is not adopting any specific factors for determining entitlement, but may identify such factors in individual cases going forward.

Commission User Fees

The Commission seeks comments on a new calculation methodology that would aim to align fees with program costs.

The Federal Maritime Commission is the federal agency responsible for regulating the nation’s international ocean transportation for the benefit of exporters, importers, and the American consumer. The FMC’s mission is to foster a fair, efficient, and reliable international ocean transportation system while protecting the public from unfair and deceptive practices.