The move comes amid increased pressure from shippers, Congress, and the White House to crack down on unreasonable storage fees tied to ongoing port congestion, reports IHS Media.
In a letter to the container carriers, Lucille Marvin, managing director at the FMC, said the newly formed Vessel-Operating Common Carrier Audit programme will gauge whether additional storage fees that stem from an inability to pick up or return containers heed the agency's interpretive ruling.
Ms Marvin wrote that each carrier must tap a managing director to respond to the audit and provide monthly updates to regulators.
In issuing an interpretive rule in spring 2020, the FMC said that the fairness of detention and demurrage fees should be viewed through a lens of whether they encourage the timely retrieval of import containers and return of empties. But a lack of formal complaints, coupled with the White House on July 9 issuing an executive order targeting container carrier practices, including detention and demurrage charges, is putting pressure on the commission to bolster its monitoring of practices that potentially violate the Shipping Act of 1984.
For the audit, the FMC is targeting the container lines with the largest share of US cargoes: Cosco Shipping Group, CMA CGM, Evergreen, Hapag-Lloyd, HMM, Maersk, Mediterranean Shipping Co, Ocean Network Express, and Yang Ming.