The Port of Long Beach on Tuesday honored 14 top ocean carriers as the "best of the best" in the Port’s Green Flag environmental program.
The Port’s Green Flag vessel speed reduction program gives financial incentives to ship operators to slow down near the harbor and reduce air pollution. More than 95 percent of the nearly 5,000 ships that call to the Port every year now participate in the voluntary program. Since it began seven years ago, more than 200 vessel operators have been awarded Green Flags and qualified for reductions on dockage fees.
The program has been instrumental in helping the Port decrease vessel diesel pollution by half and from all port-related operations by 72 percent since 2005.
"Because of your voluntary efforts, the air throughout our region is more breathable," Port of Long Beach Executive Director J. Christopher Lytle told the fleet operators gathered for a luncheon hosted by the Law Offices of Keesal, Young & Logan in downtown Long Beach. "We continue to be grateful that so many of you have joined us in improving air quality and the quality of life in this community."
Vessels that slow down within a 20 nautical mile zone around the Port are rewarded with reductions on dockage fees, with greater reductions to ships that slow down within 40 nautical miles. The 40-mile program began in 2009.
In 2011, the program achieved its highest rate of participation to date with close to 96 percent of all ships slowing down to the speed limit of 12 knots within the 20 nautical mile radius. And more than 80 percent of ships calling at the Port slowed within the 40 nautical miles radius. Slower ships burn less diesel, therefore producing less pollution.
The 14 companies honored Tuesday represented a select group of ocean carriers whose ships achieved well above the 90 percent participation requirement, in some cases 100 percent.
"This is a voluntary program that gets remarkable participation," said Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster who attended the luncheon with other city and Port officials, including Vice Mayor Suja Lowenthal, Board of Harbor Commissioners President Susan E. Anderson Wise, and Commissioners Rich Dines and Doug Drummond.
"This program has removed thousands of tons of pollution from the air," Wise said. "And that’s all thanks to you, the shipping community, for embracing the Green Flag program and improving our air quality."
The "Green Flag Top 14" are:
• Mediterranean Shipping Co. (MSC)
• Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha ("K" Line)
• Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK Line)
• P O Shipping
• Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL)
• ZIM Integrated Shipping
• Pacific International Lines
• Hanjin Shipping Co Ltd.
• Matson Navigation
• Hamburg Sud
• China Ocean Shipping Co. (COSCO)
• Alaska Tanker
• CMA CGM
Last year, the Port awarded $2.1 million in dockage fee discounts to carriers participating in the Program.