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.
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.