Members of the Agriculture Transportation Coalition (AgTC) and the Transpacific Stabilization Agreement (TSA) have formed a Working Committee to create best practices and address concerns surrounding new amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS).

The amendment requires shippers and NVOCCs to supply a verified total container weight (including contents) to the vessel master and terminal operator as a condition for loading aboard a ship. The rule goes into effect July 1, 2016.

The committee brings together a diverse industry coalition to discuss timing, feasibility, and documentation requirements. The committee is currently comprised of 25 AgTC member shippers and truckers, eight ocean carriers, and three software providers. It may be expanded to include other key participants in the supply chain, such as terminal operators, port authorities, etc.

Peter Friedmann, AgTC Executive Director, highlighted: “The goal is to keep cargo moving through our US ports, without causing further delays or congestion. We have much to do in a very tight time frame.”

Donna Lemm, Chair of the Working Committee and AgTC Advisory Board member, stated: “Yesterday’s kickoff meeting was a good start and I am encouraged. We have shared our concerns with the TSA and have a good basis for collaboration going forward.”

Brian Conrad, TSA Executive Administrator, explained: “Our ocean carrier members look forward to addressing the concerns from the shipper community to come up with a system that works for all parties. Each carrier will implement their own protocol independently of one another, but the committee provides an exceptional forum to hear from US shippers before the rule goes into effect.”

A Refrigerated Cargo Sub-Committee has been established, chaired by Perry Bourne of Tyson Foods, also a member of the AgTC Advisory Board, who notes: “Refrigerated shipments are particularly complex and sensitive to any delay; our objective is to ensure that these new rules do not hinder US refrigerated exports.”