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Great Lakes coalition files suit over pilotage fees

An alliance of U.S. Great Lakes ports, vessel-operating companies and maritime trade associations filed suit Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, challenging the U.S. Coast Guard's 58 percent increase in Great Lakes pi...

An alliance of U.S. Great Lakes ports, vessel-operating companies and maritime trade associations filed suit Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, challenging the U.S. Coast Guard's 58 percent increase in Great Lakes pilotage rates, the American Great Lakes Ports Association reported in a news release.

"Great Lakes pilotage costs have gone up 114 percent over the last 10 years," said Will Friedman, president of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority. "The Coast Guard wants to increase them another 58 percent by 2017. These increases are unsustainable and will ultimately erode the viability of international trade through Great Lakes ports."

Under federal law, all oceangoing vessels on the Great Lakes Seaway System must hire local pilots - navigators familiar with local conditions - to assist with navigation. The Coast Guard regulates and sets rates for Great Lakes pilotage, which is provided by three private companies.

The American Great Lakes Ports Association, the Shipping Federation of Canada and the U.S. Great Lakes Shipping Association filed the complaint along with vessel-operating companies Fednav International Ltd, Canfornav Inc., Polish Steamship Company, Spliethoff Transport, Brochart Shipping and Wagenborg Shipping.

The coalition argues that the Coast Guard violated the Administrative Procedures Act by making "arbitrary and unsubstantiated decisions during development of the 2016 pilotage rates," the news release stated.

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The plaintiffs have asked the court to remand the rulemaking back to the Coast Guard for revision.

Related Topics: SHIPPINGLAKE SUPERIOR
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