Fines for not Reporting Tonnages

If you have not seen it yet, the 2015 Transportation Facts and Information Card is available. Please access the .pdf document here.

In November, we met with Tom Podany, Director of the Waterborne Commerce Statistics Center, at his office in New Orleans. We discussed multiple topics including:

  • How to get more inland ports recognized by IWR: I have been in contact with many of you to have your particular location recognized.
  • How to bring more attention to reporting tonnages: Tom had the wonderful suggestion of including a monthly reminder when you send out your invoices. To see an example of the reminder card they use, please click here.

For your convenience, I have prepared a monthly reminder for you to use. You can simply download that ,pdf here.

September 11, 2016:

Good morning again,

Since the August 30th email, I have received a lot of questions about the fines and again, “Who should be Reporting”. I sent Tom Podany (Director of the Institute for Water Resources (IWR) and email asking about different situations.

Again, the major question all around is ‘Who should be reporting’. Is it the terminal operator, barge line or cargo owner? All have an interest in keeping rivers open for commercial transportation but the definition of “owners, agents, master and clerks” seem to be the detriment of the understanding.

For example;

Owners of Cargo – In the case of agriculture co-ops; there are multiple “owners” of the cargo. Who is doing the reporting. When we explore the container on barge and use the ENG 3825C form, I just can’t see Walmart filing these reports or even having the knowledge of what’s needed. In that case, we would depend on the terminal operator – but as you will find below, that’s not mandatory.

Terminal operators – Terminal operators have the option to voluntary submit tonnage numbers using ENG3926; but this is not required. Most of them are not interested in the additional work if it isn’t mandatory. There is a mixture of private terminals and self-operated public docks who load cargo for river transport. In the majority of the cases, the cargo that the terminal is handling is not owned by them.

Mr. Podany’s response was, “The simple answer is that the owner of the vessel is ultimately responsible for reporting cargo movements. They can, and usually do, delegate reporting to the operator of the vessel. This is what we discussed at the IRPT meeting in May; though I did hear from at least one person that “owners don’t delegate reporting requirements to operators.” If you do not own or operate vessels you are not required to report and cannot be fined.

The Code of Federal regulations (33 CFR Part 207 based on 33 U.S.C 555) has a few examples of situations to show who would report in the following examples: 1.) Lease/Charter arrangement, 2.) Interline Movement, 3.)Vessel Swap/Trade, 4.)Re-Consignment, and 5.) Fleeting. The bottom line is that the person or entity receiving remuneration for the movement of vessels or for the transportation of goods or passengers on the navigable waters is responsible for assuring that the report is timely filed.

Port and dock operators can voluntarily give us dock receipts which will help us track down cargo shipments to their dock that did not get reported.

For vessels under lease/charter agreements, the lessee or charterer of any commercial vessel engaged in commercial transportation will be responsible for the filing of the reports until the lease/charter expires.

The vessel owner, or his designated agent, is always the responsible party for ensuring that all commercial activity of the vessel is timely reported.

August 30, 2016:

Did you know there is a $5,000 fine for not reporting your tonnage to the Institute for Water Resources?

Please find a letter I received detailing the fines here.

It states, “that owners, agents, master, and clerks of vessels and other craft plying upon the navigable waters of the United States, and all individuals and corporations engaged in transporting their own goods upon the navigable waters of the United States shall furnish such statements relative to vessels, passengers, freight, and tonnage as may be required by the Secretary of the Army…”

It further reads, “All information and data sent… is required to be held in confidence and will not be released outside of the federal government in order to maintain the confidentiality of proprietary information” Failure to provide statements required are subject to the following penalties:

  • For each and every offense, a fine of not more than $5,000 or imprisonment not exceeding two months.
  • A civil penalty of up to $2,500 per violation.
  • Denial of passage through locks and canals.

If you are unsure if you should be reporting, I would like to share with you the below information IRPT published in February of 2015. I encourage you to take a look at the ENG forms as well.

IRPT Members can log on to their account to view the tonnage reporting webinar using the drop-down box.

If you are still unsure whether you should be reporting, you can contact me directly or of course, contact the Waterborne Commerce Statistics Center at (504) 862-1414