A variety of vessels docked at St. John’s harbour as seen here from the top of the Atlantic Place parking garage Monday afternoon. The Port of St. John’s will be increasing port fees by two per cent beginning March 1. — Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram
The list of items the St. John’s Port Authority charges harbour users to land may seem old fashioned, but the authority says it gets few complaints because there’s a catch-all category for all goods.
Reviewing the list hasn’t been a priority, but it’s one of the rate schedules that generally sees an increase each year.
This year’s rates are scheduled to increase by two per cent as of March 1 and most often the authority gets very little opposition to rate hikes, says Bob McCarthy, director of business development for the port.
“There’s virtually no written response,” McCarthy said of the usual reaction. “We have not had any issue at all.”
In 2012, rates increased by 2.8 per cent. The rates are reviewed each year, based on the consumer price index.
Port fees are charged based on four schedules — berthage and anchorage charges, wharfage rates, small commercial vessel rates and passenger rates. The wharfage charge schedule is a list of goods and the rate charged per tonne for vessels to bring them in.
Some are rather dated, as the list is from another era when the federal government ran all the ports and devised a nationwide schedule.
It includes such items as asbestos, fish, fruits and vegetables, jute, coal, coke (the industrial fuel), sand and gravel, sugar — raw or refined, livestock and vehicles.
Two dozen items are listed, but anything not covered falls under the generic “all goods not elsewhere specified.”
Fish for example is charged a rate of $2.26 per tonne (based on weight) under the current schedule, rising to $2.31 in March.
The fee for each self-propelled, four-wheel motor vehicle weighing 1,815 kilograms is $12.69, due to increase to $12.94 in March.
Operators offloading goods are required to provide the port with a manifest, showing the volume or weight of goods.
Vessels that carry passengers, such as cruise ships, are charged a passenger rate — which does not apply to crew.
The fee for each adult is $8.41, rising to $8.58 in March. The fee for children is roughly half that and each vehicle costs $13.68 under the current schedule, rising to $13.95 in March.
Tour boats operating on the port’s property are charged $1.47 per passenger, increasing to $1.50 in March.
There are also berthage and anchorage rates, based on a per gross registered tonne.
Berthage rates are based on 12-hour periods. And anchorage rates are long term, based on 30-day-plus periods.
The minimum charge possible currently is $48, rising to almost $49 in March.
Small, commercial vessels have their own schedule.
A boat that’s less than 30 feet long is charged $3.56 a day, or $89.32 a month, under the existing small commercial vessel schedule. That daily rate, for instance, increases to $3.63 once March 1 hits.
The daily rate for a 61- to 99-foot vessel is 17.06, increasing to $17.35 March 1.
If fees are not paid, companies or operators are not permitted to berth again.
The port also charges for electricity, vehicle entry permits and parking.
McCarthy said since the port receives no federal funds, all the fees support port operations, infrastructure and improvements.