Ever think about how bananas get to your table? How about shampoo to your shower or clothes to your closet? Chances are, they came through a port. According to the International Maritime Organization, over 90 percent of global trade occurs through ocean carriers, making maritime transportation and seaports critical to the nation’s economy and transportation system. For producers to compete internationally and to meet customer needs, they rely on efficient ports and access to maritime carrier services.
In a Tuesday hearing, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security examined our country’s marine transportation system and federal maritime policy in light of upcoming reauthorizations of the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) and the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC). These organizations play key roles in fostering an efficient and reliable international ocean transportation system. A common theme echoed between Chairwoman Deb Fischer (NE), Mr. Michael Khouri (Acting Chairman, FMC), and Ms. Rebecca Dye (Commissioner, FMC) was that stronger information infrastructure will improve both supply chain performance and economic competitiveness. Chairwoman Fischer also believes movement of goods through ports can improve with “better communication between stakeholders and real-time data sharing.” Ms. Dye suggested a national seaport information portal to facilitate data sharing between ports, fishers, and other interested parties.
In an age of ever-expanding technology and information, it is logical that our nation’s transportation systems maximize these capabilities and advancements. As Mr. Mario Cordero (Commissioner, FMC) stated, “Many believe we are on course to the fourth industrial revolution—the acceleration of the implementation of technology and digitalization in a rapidly-changing industry.”