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FMC probes Canadian ballast water rules that hurt Lakes trade

THE US Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) has started to probe into pending Canadian ballast water regulations said to be detrimental to US flag Great Lake ships when it voted to issue a 'Notice of Investigation and Request for Comments'

21 June 2020 - 19:00

THE US Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) has started to probe into pending Canadian ballast water regulations said to be detrimental to US flag Great Lake ships when it voted to issue a 'Notice of Investigation and Request for Comments'.

The notice specifies how interested parties can communicate with the FMC in this matter and establishes a deadline for filing comments 30 days following publication of the Notice in the Federal Register.



Comments filed with the FMC will supplement information FMC staff collect as they investigate allegations raised by the Lake Carriers' Association (LCA) in a petition filed at the commission on March 6.



In their petition, the LCA alleges that pending regulations concerning ballast water management under consideration by Transport Canada are unfavorable to shipping in the US-Canada trade, pursuant to Section 19(1)(b) of the Merchant Marine Act, 1920 (Section 19).



Canadian regulations would require vessels in Canadian waters to develop and implement a ballast water management plan to be imposed upon US flag vessels when loading ballast water after offloading export cargo at Canadian ports.



Canada contends that the proposed regulations are required pursuant to an International Maritime Organisation (IMO) treaty to which Canada is a party, but which the United States is not a signatory.



LCA contends that the proposed regulations are not mandated by the IMO treaty, that compliance with the Canadian performance standard would be cost prohibitive for its members, and that the proposed regulations are intended to drive US operators from the cross-lakes trade.



The FMC found that the petition met the threshold requirements for consideration and voted on May 20 to accept the petition.



The FMC has the authority to investigate and sanction discriminatory conditions caused by laws, rules, or regulations of foreign governments. If the commission finds that such regulations result in conditions unfavorable to shipping in a US-foreign trade, the FMC remedies include: levying fines on vessels calling at US ports, prohibiting vessel calls at US ports, and restricting cargo that may be carried between the US and the foreign country.


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