FREMANTLE PORT AUTHORITY – PROPOSED NEW RULES OF ENGAGEMENT
In service of our project heavy lift, breakbulk and dry bulk sector customers in Western Australia, AAL Shipping (AAL) has operated a scheduled monthly liner service between Asia and Western Australia since 2006, and Fremantle is an integral part of that operation.
September 24, 2021 we were made aware that the Fremantle Port Authority is proposing a new set of ‘Rules’, known as the ‘Inner Harbour Scheduling, Berth Efficiency Guidelines and Rules of Engagement’. Not yet set in stone, these proposed Rules have been forwarded by the Authority to interested parties for comment and input. Having studied the document in detail on behalf of our customers and stakeholders, we are concerned about several key areas and wish to share them with you.
One of the most damaging parts of the proposed Rules is the introduction of a maximum permitted berth time of 5 days. As you are aware, with the complex nature of our project heavy lift and breakbulk cargoes combined with a high cargo demand from local shippers and traders, AAL has required an average berthing time of 10 days.
In addition, the Rules further propose that any vessel can be instructed to vacate its berth immediately at the sole discretion of the Port Authority and lists several conditions for this, including when a large container vessel might arrive and require berthing itself. Even though the Port Authority already has the power to order vessels off their berths, as seen recently with the AAL DAMPIER, such definition will significantly increase the possibility that this becomes a regular occurrence and disrupt the entire cargo operation of general break bulk vessels utilising common user berths.
Clearly, both points highlighted above strongly favour RoRo and container carriers over general cargo and breakbulk, and yet are being lobbied for in the name of port efficiency.
Should Fremantle Ports implement these Rules, AAL would have no option but to pass a portion of the increased costs involved to our customers. In support of the customers and local industries we serve, AAL has objected in writing to these proposed Rules – citing the negative impact they would have on our own operations, as well as those of our customers.
Whilst the proposed Rules are under consideration, each of us impacted by them has the power to make their feelings heard and respond directly to the Fremantle Port Authority with their opinions. For your convenience, we have made available online a full transcript of the proposed ‘Inner Harbour Scheduling, Berth Efficiency Guidelines and Rules of Engagement’.
We thank-you for your time and will continue to monitor the situation closely.
The AAL Australia Team