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Ships bound for L.A. and Long Beach ports will wait farther offshore to ease air quality

Container ships and tankers wait outside the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
Starting Nov. 16, ships waiting to anchor at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach will have to wait for a green light about 150 miles from the coast.
(Getty Images)

Vessels bound for the Southern California port complex, the largest in the U.S., will now have to wait for an available berth almost seven times as far away as currently allowed in a bid to improve air quality and safety in the area.

Starting Nov. 16, ships waiting to anchor at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach will have to wait for a green light about 150 miles from the coast, the Pacific Merchant Shipping Assn., the Pacific Maritime Assn. and the Marine Exchange of Southern California said in a statement Thursday. That compares with 20 nautical miles (23 miles) now. North- and southbound vessels must remain more than 50 miles from the state’s coastline.

Shipping companies and logistics officials say the logjam at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach is showing some signs of improving in response to recent measures.

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The shipping industry is responsible for almost 3% of carbon emissions worldwide, according to the International Maritime Organization. Overwhelming volume generated by pandemic-induced consumer demand has seen record numbers of ships moving through Los Angeles and Long Beach, which brings more trucks into the area to pick up and drop off containers.

An “environmentally sound” marine transportation system is essential to the California economy, Marine Exchange of Southern California Executive Director James Kipling Louttit said in the statement. The new rules will support “the health of our ports,” he said.

Follow a container of board games from China to St. Louis to see all the delays it encounters along the way.


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