An emergency meeting was held on Monday with industry stakeholders to help solve the shipping congestion in the bay. As of Tuesday afternoon, there were 14 vessels waiting their turn to load – an unprecedented number.
Eastland Port, Eastland Wood Council, ISO Limited, log exporters and forest managers are working together to clear the backlog and streamline the flow of logs from the region.
Some of the factors that have caused this congestion include the 20 day wharf 8 maintenance period where the port could only load logs at 50%, a seven day weather event, and log exporters continuing to book ships so they can get a position in the queue.
“The delays are impacting people and businesses at every stage of the supply chain,” said Eastland Group Chief Operating Officer Andrew Gaddum.
“It’s important that our region’s largest industry can get up and going quickly so, after discussions with industry representatives, we are making significant changes to the way we operate.
“We have identified a number of pragmatic and safe ways we can help further improve the loading times.”
Effective immediately, no more ships are being booked in until further notice.
With the ships waiting out in the bay, the Port team will be:
- Limiting deck cargo (logs loaded on deck) so there aren’t delays for lashing logs to the deck, significantly increasing the loading efficiency of vessels.
- Limiting departure drafts so ships aren’t waiting for tides to depart the berth.
- Fixing the customer’s berthing sequence so there is certainty over when a specific exporter’s ship will berth.
These measures will significantly improve the rate at which logs can be loaded across the berth, freeing up log storage space and reducing ship wait time. The ultimate goal is to streamline the loading process and get our logging crews and trucking companies back to work as quickly as possible. There will still be weather delays but these measures will help reduce these to an absolute minimum.
“We are not sure if these changes will continue once the pressure has been removed but we will certainly re-evaluate once we get through this challenging time, and will carry through any positive solutions into the future in consultation with our exporters,” said Mr Gaddum. “In the longer term, our upcoming Twin Berth development will help minimise the reoccurrence of events like this, with two 185-200 metre long ships able to berth at once.
“It’s not every day that forestry competitors get around the table and work together, so we’re grateful to have people like this in our industry who want to contribute to the greater good.
“We’d also like to acknowledge everyone involved in the forestry supply chain for their patience and support in helping us achieve solutions to the current issues.”