The Global Shippers' Forum is calling on governments to support compromise proposals for the verification of container weights to be considered at the IMO Sub-Committee on Dangerous Goods, Solid Cargoes and Containers at the forthcoming IMO meeting which will commence on 16 September 2013.
The GSF has said that it believes the compromise proposal (which includes two methods for verification) is the 'best possible outcome' for shippers and the maritime industry, as it provides a flexible and workable solution which can be adopted by industry without significant cost or delays in the supply chain.
In addition, the GSF has stated that in particular it is pleased that the Correspondence Group has accepted proposals by shippers and a number of governments to provide for a second method of verification, which will allow shippers to use a calculated option whereby the shipper can weigh all packages and cargo items including pallets, dunnage and the tare of the container.
GSF Secretary General, Chris Welsh said:
"An IMO Correspondence Group was established to draft an amendment to the SOLAS Convention to provide language for a mandatory requirement for verification of the gross weight of containers and Guidelines for implementation. They listened carefully to shippers’ arguments regarding appropriate methods for verification.
"This will be a key benefit for shippers using audit-based SAP systems as they will be able to adapt their existing systems to comply with their responsibility for obtaining and documenting the gross mass weight of a packed container. 
"IMO member states’ representatives and industry groups, including shippers and carriers have worked constructively within the IMO Correspondence Group to find a workable solution for verification of container weights prior to shipment."
Mr Welsh added:
"GSF maintains that the majority of shippers act responsibly and comply with their responsibilities to make accurate cargo declarations. However, a number of recent incidents have highlighted that weight misdeclarations may be on the rise. We believe that the IMO Correspondence Group proposals are sensible and proportionate and will lead to improved operational performance and enhanced safety within the maritime supply chain."
Notes for editors
To request an interview with Chris Welsh or for more information please contact the FTA press office by calling: 01892 552255/07818 450425 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Global Shippers' Forum is the global voice for shippers, created in 2006 as the successor to the Tripartite Shippers' Group, first organised in 1994. Like the Tripartite Shippers' Group, the GSF represents the interests of shippers from Asia, Australasia, Europe, North and South America and Africa. The GSF is focused on the impact of commercial developments in the international freight transportation industry and the policy decisions of governments and international organisations that affect shippers and receivers of freight. The GSF was formally incorporated and registered as a non-governmental organisation in the United Kingdom in June 2011.
Contact: GSF Secretary General, Chris Welsh:
tel: +44 (0)1892 552384
mob: +44 (0)7818 450556
IMO Timetable for Implementation (if agreed):
If the IMO Subcommittee approves the proposed SOLAS amendment and guidelines at its next meeting in mid-September (DSC 18), they must then be 'approved' at the next IMO Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) meeting (MSC 93 in May 2014), and then officially 'adopted' by a subsequent MSC. The formal adoption cannot take place earlier than 12 months after the MSC meeting where the proposals were agreed, i.e., MSC 95 in May 2015. Upon adoption, there is typically a 24 months “waiting period” before the SOLAS amendments take effect, which would be May 2017. This very lengthy process would ensure more than ample time for shippers and the industry to easily adapt to the new rules.
 The SOLAS Convention places existing responsibilities on shippers to declare the accurate weight and details of the consignment.
The proposed amendments strengthen these responsibilities for shippers to verify the weight by weighing the packed container (method one), or weighing all packages and cargo items, including the mass of pallets, dunnage and other securing material to be packed in the container and adding the tare of the container to the sum of the single masses, using a certified method approved by the competent authority of the State in which packing of the container was to be completed (method two).