The United States Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) is an independent federal agency, based in Washington, D.C. responsible for the regulation of ocean borne transportation in the foreign commerce of the U.S.
The FMC ROLE:• Regulates certain activities of international shipping lines (called "ocean common carriers"), marine terminals operators, and ocean transportation intermediaries (OTIs) who operate in the U.S. foreign commerce
• Oversees the financial responsibility of cruise ship lines and other passenger ship operators, to ensure they have the resources to pay compensation for personal injuries or non-performance
• Monitors the laws and practices of foreign governments which could have a discriminatory or otherwise adverse impact on the U.S. shipping industry and U.S. maritime trade, and administers bilateral trade sanctions to persuade foreign governments to remove adverse conditions
• Enforces special regulatory requirements applicable to shipping lines owned or controlled by foreign governments (so-called “controlled carriers”)
• Reviews and regulates agreements between shipping lines and/or marine terminals (which enjoy statutory immunity from the antitrust laws) and service contracts between shipping lines and their customers
• Licenses and regulates ocean transportation intermediaries in the U.S., and ensures all maintain evidence of financial responsibility.These intermediaries include freight forwarders, who make bookings and process paperwork for shipper customers (roughly analogous to a travel agent for freight), and "non-vessel-operating common carriers", who act as resellers of space on shipping lines' vessels.