Federal Maritime Commission alters operations to fight COVID-19 exposure

The U.S. Federal Maritime Commission (FMC), which is charged with ensuring fair and reasonable competition in the U.S. international container trades, said it remains open for business, but will “hold meetings and other public-facing activities via phone, e-mail, and other platforms that allow for reduced in-person contact.”

However, that does not relax the regulatory policies it oversees.

The agency said, “Regulated entities remain obligated to comply with all filing requirements and deadlines.”

To assist in slowing the transmission of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and limit the exposure risk, the FMC has started allowing staff this week the option to work from home. The industry can contact them by email and phone.

“The FMC is following OMB [Office of Management and Budget] guidance and is operating with maximum telework procedures,” FMC Chairman Michael Khouri told American Shipper via email.

“All agency employees are tele-work qualified and have been provided with computers and other equipment that allows each bureau and office to continue its mission and conduct business as usual,” he added. “This includes meeting all statutory requirements and timeframes. All regulated parties need to likewise observe their statutory requirements.”

The FMC said any documents required by the commission may be submitted by email. Email addresses to individual agency offices may be found here.

“If you are a party or counsel in a docketed proceeding, we request you transmit any filings by email to secretary@fmc.gov as permitted by 46 CFR 502.2(f),” the FMC said. “If you have particular concerns or questions about filing please contact the Secretary at the same address. If you are intending to file a new formal complaint, please contact the Secretary before filing.”

The FMC also said payments by mail are currently suspended. Instead, the industry should use the agency’s online payment portal.