There's been significant progress in reducing the cargo processing backlog at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
The number of cargo ships anchored off the coast waiting for their turn to unload is now down to 30. The count reached a high of 80 ships last month. Port officials believe the looming threat of fines has prompted shipping companies to move old cargo off the docks quicker. A fine for unmoved cargo was proposed on October 25th, but it's been delayed each week since because shipping companies are complying with the port's orders. “Container ships are very tall and blow around a lot in the wind,” said Kip Louttit, executive director of the Marine Exchange of Southern California, which monitors ship movements in the area. ”The numbers were not going down, so therefore we needed to find a way to spread the ships out.”
The ships are complying with a voluntary system set up last month by maritime officials because of fears the ports can’t safely accommodate the crush of waiting vessels as winter weather sweeps in with strong winds and rough seas. Under the new system, ships are placed on a wait list once they leave their last port of call, often in China. That gives captains an estimated date for a berth and allows them to slow their journey to the U.S.