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HQ 954309

March 2, 1994

CLA- 2 CO:R:C:T 954309 NLP


TARIFF NO.: 9507.90.2000

District Director
United States Customs Service
300 South Ferry St
Terminal Island
Room 2017
San Pedro, CA 90731

RE: Protest no. 2704-93-100896; fishing line; headings 5404 and 9507; Legal Note 1(c) to Chapter 95; Explanatory Notes to headings 5604 and 9507; HRL 084989

Dear Sir:

This is a decision on application for further review of protest no. 2704-93-100896 timely filed by Jatra International, against your decision concerning the classification of fishing line under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS).


Counsel for the protestant has submitted seven samples of "Maxima" brand nylon monofilament fishing line, in various size packages. The fishing line at issue is cut to length for retail sale. All are put up on a plastic spool and enclosed in clear plastic retail packages. These packages are then enclosed in boxes that are clearly labelled as fishing line. The monofilaments all measure 0.17 millimeters in diameter and measures 67 decitex or more. The spools on which the monofilaments are mounted are designed for packing and transportation only, and contain no tackle, hooks, lures or other fishing reel components. These items are sold at the retail level in sporting goods and fishing tackle stores to the ultimate consumer-the fisherman.

Counsel has also submitted, for comparison purposes, a sample of bulk monofilament line. The 2600 yard spool is primarily used as a service spool by retail sporting good stores. Upon buying a reel, the retail sales person offers to spool it with a fishing line of choice.

Upon liquidation, the fishing line was classified in subheading 5404.10.8020, HTSUS, which provides for "[s]ynthetic monofilament of 67 decitex or more and of which no cross-sectional dimension exceeds 1 mm; ...: [m]onofilament: [o]ther: [o]ther: [o]ther: [o]f nylon or other polyamides." The rate of duty is 7.8% ad valorem.

It is counsel for the protestant's position that the fishing line is classifiable in subheading 9507.90.2000, HTSUS, which provides for "[f]ishing rods, fish hooks and other line fishing tackle...parts and accessories thereof: [o]ther: [f]ishing line put up and packaged for retail sale." The rate of duty is 5.4% ad valorem. In support of the protestant's position, counsel has submitted a variety of documentation, including a letter from Mr. Dallas Miner of the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus Foundation, a selection from The Bass Fisherman's Bible and sample pages from fishing catalogues depicting reels, spools of line and fishing rods.


Is the fishing line classifiable as other monofilament in subheading 5404.10.8020, HTSUS, or as fishing line put up and packaged for retail sale in subheading 9507.90.2000, HTSUS?


The classification of goods under the HTSUS is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs), taken in order. GRI 1 provides that classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes. In the event that the goods cannot be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1, and if the headings and legal notes do not otherwise require, the remaining GRI's may be applied, taken in order.

Heading 9507, HTSUS, provides for, inter alia, fish hooks and other line fishing tackle. Subheading 9507.90.2000, HTSUS, provides for "[f]ishing line put up and packaged for retail sale." This heading is limited by Legal Note 1(c), Chapter 95, HTSUS, which states that Chapter 95 does not cover: "[y]arns, monofilaments, cords or gut or the like for fishing, cut to length but not made up into fishing lines, of chapter 39, heading 4206 or section XI." The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs) to heading 9507, HTSUS, state that this heading covers:

(3) Line fishing rods and tackle. ....Fishing tackle comprises such items as reels and reel mountings; artificial bait (e.g., imitation fish, flies, insects or worms) and hooks mounted with such bait; spinning bait; mounted lines and casts....
The ENs also state that this heading excludes "Yarns, monofilaments, cords and real or imitation gut, cut to length but not made up into fishing lines (Chapter 39, heading 42.06 or Section XI)." Moreover, the ENs to heading 5604 state that "[t]he heading does not include:...(b) Imitation catgut with hooks attached or otherwise made up into fishing lines (heading 95.07).

In determining what articles are or are not considered "made up into fishing line", Headquarters Ruling Letter (HRL) 084989, dated October 3, 1989, is instructive. HRL 084989 dealt with the classification of a braided polyester fishing line of a continuous length that measured approximately 110 yards and was wound onto a plastic spool. It was imported for retail sale. Customs held that the fishing line, although cut to length and packaged for retail sale, was wound on a spool that merely acted as a holder and not an article which was used, in and of itself, as part of a fishing reel. Therefore, the line was not considered "made up" into fishing line and, pursuant to Legal Note 1 (c) to Chapter 95, it was excluded from classification in Heading 9507, HTSUS. In reaching this conclusion, we noted that in the ENs to heading 9507, HTSUS, no other examples of lines were given other than "mounted lines". We also noted the ENs to heading 5604, which are cited above.

Based on the Legal Notes to Chapter 95, HTSUS, and the cited ENs, it is obvious that for an article to be considered "fishing line" classifiable in heading 9507, HTSUS, the line must be cut to length and "made up". The difficulty lies in determining what else must be done to the line for it to be considered "made up". Based on our holding in HRL 084989, it appears that the attachment of hooks to the line as well as "mounting" are acceptable methods of distinguishing between fishing lines in Chapter 95, HTSUS, and those in Section XI, HTSUS. Any imported fishing line falling short of these conditions, even though cut to length and packaged for retail sale, would, therefore, fail to meet the "put up" or "made up" criterion of Chapter 95, HTSUS and heading 9507, HTSUS.

However, it is counsel's argument that, if Customs interprets the phrase "made up into fishing line" in the above manner, heading 9507, HTSUS, would become an empty provision. Specifically, counsel argues that the majority of all fishing line is sold on spools which are not part of the fishing reel. The commercial reality is that fishing line is not imported mounted on a reel. For example, Mr. Miner, in his letter dated November 8, 1993, states that "There is very, very little line bought in the United States on a spool which is in and of itself part of a reel." In addition, the submitted catalogue pages depict fishing reels without line spooled on them. We note that
combination packages are offered that may include a reel, rod and a spool. In this instance, the spool is still not part of the reel.

Furthermore, counsel argues that in determining what constitutes "made up into fishing line", Legal Note 7 to Section XI, HTSUS, is applicable. While it is true that the term "made up" is not defined in Chapter 95, the definition of this term in Legal Note 7, Section XI, HTSUS, is only applicable to articles in Section XI and cannot be applied to define a term in heading 9507, HTSUS.

After examining the Legal Notes, ENs, HRL 084989 and counsel's submission, it is our position that our interpretation of what articles are considered "made up" into fishing line for purposes of heading 9507, HTSUS, is somewhat limiting. There is no legal requirement that the line be mounted on an article that is itself part of a fishing reel. To include in the group of fishing line classifiable in heading 9507, HTSUS, only line that comes in on equipment that is part of the reel itself, would narrow this provision in an overly restrictive manner. We note that, while the ENs do cite mounted lines as an example of tackle and while they do provide a proper interpretation of the HTSUS, they are not dispositive.

Therefore, in distinguishing between what qualifies as fishing line for heading 9507, HTSUS and Section XI, HTSUS, classification purposes, we add these further clarifications. If the line is only imported on a spool, as the line in HRL 084989 appeared to be, then it is our position that regardless of whether it is cut to length, this line cannot be considered to be "otherwise made up into fishing line." Spools, in and of themselves, are a common method of transporting yarns, etc. Also, fishing line would normally be otherwise indistinguishable from other yarns. Furthermore, mere spooling without other evidence of retail sale would make distinctions between a fishing line and other monofilaments impossible. However, if the line is cut to length, imported on a spool, is packaged in a box or blister pack and is labelled in a way to clearly identify it as fishing line, then we believe that this line would be considered to be "cut to length and "made up" into fishing line. As the fishing line at issue here is cut to length, wound on a spool, packed in a blister pack and then packaged in a box that identifies the article clearly as fishing line, it would be classifiable in subheading 9507.90.2000, HTSUS.


The protest is approved. In accordance with Section 3A(11)(b) of Customs Directive 099 3550-065, dated August 4, 1993, Subject: Revised Protest Directive, this decision should be mailed by your office to the protestant no later than 60 days from the date of this letter. Any reliquidation of the entry in accordance with the decision must be accomplished prior to mailing the decision. Sixty days from the date of the decision the Office of Regulations and Rulings will take steps to make the decision available to Customs personnel via the Customs Rulings
Module in the ACS and the public via the Diskette Subscription Service, Lexis, Freedom of Information Act and other public access channels.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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