Eleven of 27 Amendments Proposed for Magnuson Reauthorization Bill HR 200 Could Go to House Vote

SEAFOODNEWS.COM [SeafoodNews] by Susan Chambers – June 27, 2018

An anticipated House of Representatives floor vote on H.R. 200, the Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act, was delayed Tuesday. More than 25 amendments were proposed for the bill reauthorizing the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. It went to the Rules Committee instead.

The Rules Committee held a hearing Monday night and passed a rule to provide a structured amendment process for floor consideration. The rule included 11 of the 27 amendments.

H.R. 200, sponsored by Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, was the primary bill proposed to re-authorize the Magnuson-Stevens Act. It garnered both strong support and strong opposition.

Opponents blanketed Capitol Hill offices and committees with reasons why the bill should not pass. At the same time, many Democratic lawmakers proposed amendments or changes, some that could fundamentally change Young’s original bill.

Outside supporters and lawmakers were also busy lining up votes and proposing amendments to the bill.

By Monday night, 27 amendments had been submitted: 16 from Democrats and 7 from Republicans; four were bi-partisan. Five were revised amendments and four were submitted late, after the 10 a.m. Monday deadline.

California Democrat Jared Huffman led the opposition to H.R. 200. Both he and Young were the invited witnesses to the Rules Committee hearing Monday evening.

Young, one of the creators of the first Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976, said he recognizes the successes this bill and subsequent reauthorizations have made over the years and that he, better than anyone, understands what else is needed to protect fish stocks while helping communities. “This legislation is dear to my heart,” Young said during the Rules Committee hearing.

Young also referred to recent lawmakers proposing changes to the bill as “Johnny-come-latelys” who don’t understand the fundamentals of the language that protects the stocks while balancing communities’ needs. The proposed bill was made with the suggestions from regional Councils and scientists, Young said.

Huffman countered that several provisions in the bill would roll back fish stock protections and the current language doesn’t prevent overfishing. He also noted that all previous bills reauthorizing the Fishery Conservation and Management Act were bipartisan; this one isn’t he said. It passed out of committee on party lines, Huffman added.

To that end, Huffman proposed four amendments, one considered a substitution for the entire bill. That particular amendment was not included in the committee’s final rule

By the end of the hearing, the Rules Committee passed a rule that included 11 of the 27 amendments — also along party lines. If that rule also passes the House, only those 11 amendments can be considered when H.R. 200 comes up for a floor vote again.

Those amendments, in order, include:

1. A revised manager’s amendment by Young and Rep. Garret Graves, R-La. It revises some sections and adds a new section regarding the Western Alaska Community Development Quota Program;

2. An amendment to create an industry-based pilot trawl survey for the new England and Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council regions (Reps. Joe Courtney, D-Conn. and Lee Zeldin, R-NY);

3. A provision for a voting representative from Rhode Island on the MAFMC (Reps. Jim Langevin and David Cicilline, D-RI);

4. An amendment ensuring rebuilding plans are successful in rebuilding overfished fish stocks (Reps. Jared Huffman, D-Calif., and Alcee Hastings, D-Fla.);

5. Waiving compensatory mitigation requirements for maintenance dredging projects in certain waterways (Reps. Lois Frankel, D-Fla., and Daniel Webster, R-Fla.);

6. Requiring the Comptroller General to report to Congress on the resource rent of Limited Access Privilege Programs in the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic Fishery Management Council areas (Rep. Garret Graves, R-La.);

7. A plan to establish fully operational electronic monitoring and reporting procedures for the Northeast Multispecies Fishery (Rep. William Keating, D-Ma.);

8. A requirement for NOAA to conduct a study on all fees it charges the lobster industry and report those findings to Congress (Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-Maine);

9. Lifting the ban on striped bass fishing in the Block Island transit zone between Montauk, NY and Block Island, RI (Rep. Zeldin, R-NY);

10. Directing the Secretary of Commerce to use funds collected from penalties and fines for monitoring, in addition to traditional enforcement activities (Rep. Keating); and

11. Rewarding the elimination of lionfish from US. waters by allowing individuals to exchange lionfish for tags authorizing fishing for certain species in addition to the number of such species otherwise authorized to be taken by such individuals (Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla.)

Some of the amendments that didn’t pass muster in the Rules Committee included refinancing a Pacific Coast groundfish buyback loan; two amendments related to sharks and shark finning; a prohibition on offshore drilling In essential fish habitat areas on Atlantic and Pacific coasts; additional funding for stock assessments; two amendments related to aquaculture; and more.

The earliest the committee’s rule and H.R. 200, with the 11 amendments, is likely come up on the House floor for a vote is the week of July 11. However, it may be delayed again if appropriations bills are ready in the next week and a half.

Eastern Shipbuilding Group launches North Star

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) – The Eastern Shipbuilding Group launched their latest vessel Thursday afternoon – Fri 9:33 AM, Apr 20, 2018

The North Star is a freezer stern trawling vessel built for Iquique U.S.
The ship is 261 feet and six inches long and was launched from the Nelson Shipyard after being christened.

The crew that built the North Star along with families and friends gathered to see the ship launch before its long journey.

Joey D’Isernia, the President of Eastern Shipbuilding said, “So this vessel will work in the Bering Sea in Alaska, it fishes for flatfish. It can catch, process, and freeze, 150 tons, metric tons of flatfish per day. That’s a lot of fish sandwiches.”

Officials with Eastern Shipbuilding expect the North Star to head toward the Bering Sea by the end of the year.

Watch the launching video HERE.

NOAA Says Seafood for Reprocessing Exempt from Chinese Tariffs, but Rebate System May Impose Costs

SEAFOODNEWS.COM [SeafoodNews] by Jim Paulin, with material from John Sackton – June 27, 2018

NOAA has confirmed via email to people in the Alaska seafood industry that the 25% Chinese retaliatory tariff will not apply to re-processed products for export.

John Henderschedt, NMFS director of the Office of International Affairs and Seafood Inspection, wrote  “In consultation with Embassy Beijing, NOAA Fisheries has confirmed that the following products are not subject to the additional 25% tariff recently announced by the Chinese government:

-Imports of U.S. seafood that is processed in China for re-export and some fishmeal products.”

“Affected U.S. seafood exports arriving at Chinese ports on July 6 or later will be subject to the new tariff rate,” he said in an email dated Tuesday, June 26th.

There was some uncertainty following China’s June 15 announcement at the beginning of a long holiday weekend for the Dragon Boat Festival that prevented clarification until government offices re-opened last Tuesday, June 19th, according to Jim Gilmore, Director of Public Affairs for the At-Sea Processors Association.

“Really, no one knew at that time, so the news coverage was of an issue with a lot of confusion and not much time for the U.S. government to get clarification.  The holiday didn’t help matters, but it might also have been that the Chinese government language wasn’t clear.  Not sure what factors were all at play,” Gilmore said.

One unresolved issue is that China has two types of import exemptions for re-processing for export.  One involves no tariff, for products that are exempt, and the other collects the tariff, but then rebates the value back to the company when the product is exported.

One sentence in the Chinese announcement suggests that the 25% tariff will be applied to everything, but then rebated for products that are exported.  When asked about this, Henderschedt had no comment.

If this is the final interpretation, the tariffs will add significant costs for exporters, even though they will ultimately get the 25% tariff refunded.  For example, a Chinese plant that purchases 1000 tons of cod for re-processing and pays $3.6 million, would have to pay an additional $900,000 to bring the product into the country, but then get this money back when the product was exported.  This adds costs to the process, even if the tariffs are ultimately not applied.

Ultimately, the answer will come after July 6th, when importers of record have to deal with Chinese customs officers.

Jim Gilmore says not much of offshore Alaska’s pollock is re-processed.  His group, the At-Sea Processors Association,  represents the Bering Sea pollock factory trawlers. He said that’s more common with salmon and cod.

But shore plants, especially in the Gulf of Alaska, export a lot of H&G pollock for reprocessing.  In fact, Trident recently spent millions of dollars in the last several years to upgrade its plant in Kodiak to efficiently produce a frozen H&G product.

Also the Bering Sea Amendment 80 factory trawler flatfish fleet’s catch goes to China for reprocessing, especially yellowfin sole, according to Chris Woodley, executive director of the group’s trade association, the Groundfish Forum.

The vast majority of the U.S. exports of frozen seafood to China are reprocessed in China and then re-exported, Woodley said.  Such U.S. exports to China that are then re-exported from China are not subject to Chinese duties or the Value Added Tax (VAT).  However, U.S. seafood exports that are imported for consumption in China face high tariff rates.  For example, frozen flatfish species, and other Alaska seafood exports to China that are consumed in China currently face a duty of 10 percent and are also subject to a 13 percent  VAT.

The Dragon Boat Festival is held annually in honor of poet Qu Yuan, who drowned himself in a river in 278 BC, as a political protest. Villagers tried to save the beloved figure in their little boats, but when they couldn’t find him, they threw rice in the water in the hopes that the fish would eat the rice, and not the poet and activist, during the Warring States period of Chinese history.