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FMC urged to include excessive dwell fees in demurrage regulation

As terminal operators implement excessive dwell fees to get containers moving, importers are pushing the US Federal Maritime Commission to step in and regulate the charges under the same standards as demurrage.

[Editor’s Note: Gemini Shippers Group is a member of the National Shipper Advisory Committee.]

A shipper advisory group to the US Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) is recommending that regulators expand their oversight of unreasonable demurrage fees to include so-called excessive dwell fees that have been levied on the US West Coast.

The National Shipper Advisory Committee (NSAC) unanimously approved the recommendation at its meeting Wednesday, pushing back against additional charges marine terminal operators say are necessary to clear congested facilities. The NSAC argues the excessive dwell charges represent an additional cost on top of already elevated container storage fees and are unreasonable in situations where factors out of their control prevent the pickup of containers.

Almost all the importers that spoke at Wednesday’s meeting said they had been charged emergency dwell fees.

Ken O’Brien, president of Gemini Shippers Group and an NSAC member, said shippers can accept paying demurrage fees for not picking up their boxes, but said it’s unfair for terminal operators to implement excess fees and “make money off that charge by performing at a lower level.”

“I think this might be one of the most egregious things that’s happened in our industry in the last 10 years,” O’Brien said, adding that the FMC should have intervened and forced the issue earlier.



This article was originally published by the Journal of Commerce. To continue reading, visit

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