The Marine Exchange has just unveiled its new methodology for counting container ships waiting outside the 40-mile “in port” zone.
A new queuing system has been in place since mid-November that encourages container ships to wait outside of a specially designated Safety and Air Quality Area (SAQA) that extends 150 miles to the west of the ports and 50 miles to the north and south.
This has sharply reduced the number of ships closer to shore, leading to suggestions that efforts to tackle port congestion are cutting into the offshore queue — a misconception that should be dispelled by the Marine Exchange’s new counting method.
In addition to the 96 ships waiting offshore on Friday, there were 31 container ships at terminal berths, bringing the grand total to 127, at or near an all-time high. The total number of container ships either at berths or waiting offshore continues to rise: It is up 25% from the beginning of November, 41% from the beginning of October and 79% from the beginning of September.
How do politicians achieve quick results? The easiest way is to change the way the data is collected. If you don’t like how house prices distort the data, take rents instead. If oil is too volatile just leave it out. If the number of ships weighting a for a berth is embarrassing, and the problem does not have an easy fix, just change how you count.