Import Alert: Final Rule on Seafood Import Monitoring Program Requirements under National Marine Fisheries Services (NMFS)

Final Rule Effective Date: January 9, 2017 but will not be mandatory until January 1, 2018

NMFS has published requirements for their Seafood Import Monitoring Program. The final rule establishes permitting, reporting and recordkeeping procedures relating to the importation of certain fish and fish products, identified as being at particular risk of illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing or seafood fraud, in order to implement the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act’s prohibition on the import and trade, in interstate or foreign commerce, of fish taken, possessed, transported or sold in violation of any foreign law or regulation or in contravention of a treaty or a binding conservation measure of a regional fishery organization to which the United States is a party.

According to NMFS, it is estimated that the rule will affect 2,000 importers and 600 customs brokers making 215,000 entries of the affected products per year.

What are the covered species?

This rule will apply to fish or fish products of the following priority species and species groups: abalone, Atlantic cod, Pacific cod, blue crab, red king crab, dolphinfish (mahi mahi), grouper, red snapper, sea cucumber, shrimp, sharks, swordfish, and tuna. The rule sets forth specific HTSUS numbers for these goods that will be covered but notes that these numbers may be revised occasionally by the International Trade Commission.

Highly processed fish products (e.g., fish oil, slurry, sauces, sticks, balls, cakes, puddings, and meal) will be excluded from the additional data requirements when the species of fish comprising the product or the harvesting event(s) or aquaculture operation(s) of the product being entered cannot be feasibly identified through inspection, labeling, or HTSUS number.

NMFS states that its goal is to eventually expand this program to all seafood at first point of sale or import.

Information we will need in order to transmit your entries electronically through ACE (Automated Commercial Environment)?

  • Information on the entity(ies) harvesting or producing the fish (as applicable): Name and flag state of harvesting vessel(s) and evidence of authorization; Unique vessel identifier(s) (if available); Type(s) of fishing gear; Name(s) of farm or aquaculture facility.
  • Information on the fish that was harvested and processed, including: Species of fish (ASFIS code); Product form (whole, gilled and gutted, etc.) at point of first landing; Quantity and/or weight of the product(s) as landed/delivered.
  • Information on where and when the fish were harvested and landed: Area(s) of wild-capture or aquaculture harvest; Location(s) of aquaculture facility; Point of first landing; Date of first landing or removal from aquaculture facility; Name of entity(ies) (processor, dealer, vessel) to which fish was landed.
  • The NMFS IFTP number issued to the importer of record for the entry.

Additional information on each point in the chain of custody regarding the shipment of the fish or fish product to point of entry into U.S. commerce is established as a recordkeeping requirement on the part of the importer of record to ensure that information is Start Printed Page 88992readily available to NMFS to allow it to trace the fish or fish product from the point of entry into U.S. commerce back to the point of harvest or production to verify the information that is reported upon entry. Such information could include records regarding each custodian of the fish and fish product, including, as applicable, transshippers, processors, storage facilities, and distributors. The information contained in the records must be provided to NMFS upon request and be sufficient for NMFS to conduct a trace back to verify the veracity of the information that is reported on entry. NMFS expects that typical supply chain records that are kept in the normal course of businesses, including declarations by harvesting/carrier vessels, bills of lading and forms voluntarily used or required under foreign government or international monitoring programs which include such information as the identity of the custodian, the type of processing, and the weight of the product, would provide sufficient information for NMFS to conduct a trace back. In addition to relying on such records, the trade may choose to use model forms that NMFS has developed to track and document chain of custody information through the supply chain.

IFTP Permit: Importers of record identified in CBP entry filings for shipments containing covered species will have to obtain an international fisheries trade permit

Apply for permit here:

Entries Verification via ACE:

To select entries for verification, NMFS will work with CBP to develop a specific program within ITDS to screen information for the covered commodities based on risk criteria.The information must be filed electronically through ACE and/or DIS at the time of entry.

To read the full final rule::