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HQ 110260

September 22, 1989

VES-5-CO:R:P:C 110260 LLB


Ms. Beth E. Jacobson
192 Nickerson, Suite 307
Seattle, Washington 98109

RE: Entry and clearance requirements for a U.S. fishing vessel proceeding to Soviet ports and/or fishing grounds.

Dear Ms. Jacobson:

Reference is made to your letter of May 19, 1989, in which you ask that we provide you with information regarding Customs requirements for the entry of your U.S.-flag fishing vessel DIOMEDES into the U.S. following operations in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and territorial waters of the Soviet Union.


The owner of the Vessel, BTI II, Inc., is negotiating with a U.S.-U.S.S.R. joint venture company, the Kamchatka Pacific Company, to conduct fisheries operations in the Soviet EEZ, Sea of Okhotsk, Kuril Islands, and the North Pacific Ocean off the Kamchatka Peninsula. It is stated that it is highly likely during operations outside the U.S., a port call will be made at the port of Oktyabrskiy, U.S.S.R. It is anticipated that the vessel's crew while abroad will consist of both U.S. and Soviet citizens.

It is also stated that arrangements have been made at the U.S. port of Shimia, Alaska, to take aboard vessel supplies, parts, etc., and that it is likely that the vessel will have to enter and leave that port several times during the planned operation. All Soviet personnel would be disembarked in the U.S.S.R. prior to any planned return to Shimia.


What entry, clearance, or other Customs requirements might need to be met in connection with the operation of a U.S.- flag fishing vessel documented for the coastwise and fisheries trades, which will enter and leave Soviet territorial and EEZ waters.


Section 4.60, Customs Regulations (19 CFR 4.60) provides, with certain exceptions not here relevant, that a vessel departing the U.S. for a foreign port or ports must obtain clearance from Customs prior to departure. Vessels departing for the high seas (including waters outside of the territorial waters of the U.S. and not within the territorial water of a foreign nation) are not required to obtain clearance, except if transporting export cargo to or receiving import cargo from another vessel while at sea. These clearance requirements would be effective each time the vessel departed a U.S. port, even during the pendency of a single on-going operation.

Vessel arrival and entry requirements are found in sections 4.2 and 4.3, Customs Regulations, respectively (19 CFR 4.2, 4.3). The underlying statutory requirement for report of arrival, found in 19 U.S.C. 1433, requires that arrival be reported immediately when arriving from a foreign port or place. Here, again, arrivals from the high seas in your circumstances are not within the contemplation of the requirements unless you have visited a hovering vessel while at sea. For those occasions on which you do enter U.S.S.R. ports or territorial waters you will, of course, be required to report arrival as provided by law.

Within 48 hours of arrival from foreign territorial waters or ports, you will be required to make a vessel entry with Customs. Again, entry must also be made upon return from a hovering vessel on the high seas following any transshipment of export or import merchandise to or from such a vessel.

A further requirement of which you should be aware is contained in section 4.15, Customs Regulations (19 CFR 4.15). That section requires that operators of U.S.- documented fishing vessels obtain from Customs a permit to touch and trade (Customs Form 1379) prior to proceeding to foreign territorial waters or ports. This requirement would be operative upon each departure of your vessel from the U.S. when you contemplate operations in foreign ports or territorial seas. Additionally, even though you presently contemplate taking any necessary parts/equipment aboard in a U.S. port, should it be necessary to obtain any parts, equipment, or repairs while abroad, section 4.15 requires that you report such purchases upon your first arrival in the U.S. under the procedures described in section 4.14, Customs Regulations (19 CFR 4.14).


An American-flag fishing vessel departing for Soviet ports or territorial waters must obtain clearance and a permit to touch and trade from Customs prior to departure, and must report arrival and make entry upon each return, even if the return is temporary during the pendency of an on-going fishing operation. These requirements are not operative for departures to and arrivals from the high seas so long as no merchandise is exchanged with a hovering vessel. A vessel repair entry must be filed under 19 CFR 4.14 for all parts, equipment, and repairs obtained while away from the U.S., even those obtained on the high seas.


B. James Fritz

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