In light of the upcoming SOLAS container weight verification requirement and concerns over the transition to the new rules, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has agreed to a practical and pragmatic approach for the three months after July 1, according to maritime safety authority Maritime New Zealand.
The main concerns were related to managing containers loaded before July 1 which would reach their final port on or after that date, as well as any possible teething problems with necessary software updates, data sharing, and communication systems.
The three-month period would permit packed containers that are loaded on a ship before July 1 to be shipped to their final port without the verified gross mass, and flexibility to refine, if necessary, procedures for documenting, communicating and sharing verified gross mass information, without stopping shipments.
The authority said that the flexibility in introducing new regulations for verifying container weights would benefit the country’s exporters, as about 97 percent of New Zealand’s trade is conducted by ship.
“Disruption to that trade during the transition to the new regulations could cause unnecessary and potentially costly delays,” Maritime NZ Acting Director, Lindsay Sturt, said.
Under the IMO’s new regulations the shipper exporting a container must provide its verified gross mass by methods set out in the regulations, and if it does not, then the container would not be loaded.
Currently, container weights are declared but some incidents in the past have shown inaccurate declarations and grossly understated container weights, Maritime NZ said.
“The new weight verification rules are an important safety measure to help protect seafarers, cargoes and ships,” Sturt said.