Ports reveal unprecedented surge in harmful emissions; officials blame COVID-19 logjam
With the global economy at a virtual standstill, the ports are on a mission to keep the maritime industry operating through the coronavirus pandemic.
For nearly 20 months, the industry has been trying to figure out how to keep its ships and cargo flowing.
The COVID-19 crisis has been a challenge for several years. In late March, COVID-19 shuttered maritime companies with hundreds of vessels and millions of tons of cargo. Ports, meanwhile, shuttered dozens of commercial operations and shut their doors entirely.
The Coast Guard and the Bureau of Customs, however, have remained open to maritime businesses, offering commercial support, commercial licenses, and information on international shipping regulations.
“The COVID-19 crisis has accelerated our ability to support and protect the shipping industry,” said U.S. Coast Guard Adm. Karl Schultz. “We continue to be in close communication with all stakeholders to ensure the nation’s maritime trade is secure.”
The COVID-19 outbreak in the United States forced the U.S. Coast Guard to temporarily close its ports to commercial traffic for more than a month, leaving ports and shipping businesses with questions on what they should do next. In the end, the COVID-19 crisis had an unexpected benefit: the ports have been able to resume commercial operations and allow ships to return to the water.
The ports have used the COVID-19 crisis as an opportunity to open up and get back to business. “I think what we learned is that when we were closed, we let them in. When we were reopened, they were coming back,” said Michael Schutz, president of the Port of Long Beach. “We’ve just put everything back in place.”
Schutz said his staff quickly went to work getting new equipment and supplies that will allow the port to open up more business and remain as one of the most important ports of call.
“We’re moving fast to get more ships back in