United States International Trade Commision Rulings And Harmonized Tariff Schedule
faqs.org  Rulings By Number  Rulings By Category  Tariff Numbers
faqs.org > Rulings and Tariffs Home > Rulings By Number > 2002 HQ Rulings > HQ 114758 - HQ 115629 > HQ 115629

Previous Ruling Next Ruling
HQ 115629





March 25, 2002

VES-3-24-RR:IT:EC 115629 GEV

CATEGORY: CARRIER

Karen Maddox
Bottom Line Fish Company, Inc.
7132 Highway 77
Southport, Florida 32409

RE: Fisheries; 46 U.S.C. § 12101(a)

Dear Ms. Maddox:

This is in response to your letter dated March 11, 2002, requesting a ruling regarding the importation of fish. The ruling you seek is set forth below.

FACTS:

You state that you are interested in importing fish from Mexico to Panama City, Florida. The fish, which will be caught by Mexican boats in Mexican waters, would be brought into a processing plant in Progresso, Mexico, then loaded aboard a U.S.-flagged, registry endorsed freighter (no fishing gear will be aboard) and delivered to Buddy Gandy Seafood, Panama City, Florida.

ISSUE:

Whether the transportation of fish from a Mexican port to a U.S. port as described above constitutes an engagement in the “fisheries” as defined in 46 U.S.C. § 12101(a).

ISSUE:
the Commercial Fishing Industry Vessel Anti-Reflagging Act of 1987 (the "Act", Pub. L. 100-239; 101 Stat. 1778) amended 46 U.S.C. § 12101(6) by changing the definition of "fisheries" set forth therein to include the "processing, storing, and transporting (except in foreign commerce)" of fish and related fishery resources in United States
navigable waters and the United States EEZ, as well as the catching-related activities provided for in the former definition. Accordingly, the definition of fisheries, now set forth in 46 U.S.C. § 12101(a), reads as follows:

"fisheries" includes processing, storing, transporting (except in foreign commerce), planting, cultivating, catching, taking, or harvesting fish, shellfish, marine animals, pearls, shells, or marine vegetation in the navigable waters of the United States or in the exclusive economic zone. (Emphasis added)

The U.S. EEZ is defined in Presidential Proclamation 5030 of March 10, 1983 (48 FR 10605), as extending outward for 200 nautical miles from the baseline from which the territorial sea is measured. The term “United States” is defined in 46 U.S.C. § 2101(44) as, “...the States of the United States, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, the District of Columbia, the Northern Mariana Islands, and any other territory or possession of the United States.”

Title 46, United States Code, § 12108(b) limits the employment in the fisheries to a vessel issued a certificate of documentation with a fishery endorsement, "subject to the laws of the United States regulating the fisheries" (see e.g., the Magnuson Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976 (MFCMA), 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq., administered by the Department of Commerce, NOAA, National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) under which a foreign vessel may obtain a permit from NMFS to engage in fishing in the EEZ). Under 46 U.S.C. § 12108(a), only a vessel eligible for documentation (i.e., over 5 net tons and owned by a citizen) which was built in the United States may be endorsed for the fisheries. Pursuant to 46 U.S.C. § 12108(b), subject to the laws of the United States regulating the fisheries, only a vessel so endorsed may engage in the fisheries.

With respect to the scenario under consideration, it is our position that a vessel which had no part in the taking of fish and is merely moving them as cargo from a foreign port to a U.S. port is not “transporting” the fish within the meaning of 46 U.S.C. § 12101(a). (Customs memorandum 112482, dated October 2, 1992) Such a vessel therefore need not be endorsed for the fisheries pursuant to 46 U.S.C. § 12108.

HOLDING:

The transportation of fish from a Mexican port to a U.S. port as described above does not constitute an engagement in the “fisheries” as defined in 46 U.S.C. § 12101(a). A vessel engaged in such an activity is not required to be endorsed for the fisheries pursuant to 46 U.S.C. § 12108.

Sincerely,

Larry L. Burton

Previous Ruling Next Ruling