Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) Moves Forward, Announces Investigation of Port-Based Detention and Demurrage Charges

November 23, 2020

Formal Review Process to Target Fee Assessments at California, New Jersey & New York Ports of Entry


Thursday afternoon the FMC approved a Supplemental Order that expands the authority of Fact Finding 29, “International Ocean Transportation Supply Chain Engagement”. Commissioner Dye will lead the FMC's efforts into further investigation of ocean carriers operating in alliances, focusing on the Ports of Long Beach, Los Angeles and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Specifically, the Commission will review policies and practices related to detention and demurrage, container return and container availability.


This is welcome news, and as indicated to IAM members earlier this week, the association had reached out directly to the Commission expressing our collective concern regarding the detention and demurrage fees being assessed. IAM will continue its work with a broad based shipper-focused coalition, whose members share similar challenges. As many IAM members have experienced, since August there has been a surge of detention and demurrage charges at these ports. Limited labor, chassis availability and record import volume (due to congestion exacerbated by the COVID-19 disruption) have resulted in lengthy delays, limited return appointment times and no relief from the vast majority of the assessed charges. 


IAM will use this opportunity for further outreach to the Commission, and encourages all members to share examples of unfairly assessed fees with the association. If you have any questions and to follow up, please contact Bryan Vickers with IAM's Regulatory Affairs team at bvickers@pacellp.com, 703-403-2882. 


We will keep members apprised of new developments as they occur.