The National Marine Fisheries Service has issued a final rule that, effective Sept. 20, will revise procedures and requirements for filing import, export and reexport documentation for certain fishery products.

Permits. Under this rule, NMFS will require annually renewable international fisheries trade permits for the import, export and reexport of certain regulated seafood commodities that are subject to the trade monitoring programs of regional fishery management organizations and/or trade documentation requirements under domestic law. The IFTP will consolidate existing international trade permits for regulated seafood products under the Highly Migratory Species International Trade Permit program and the Antarctic Marine Living Resources program and expand the scope of the permit requirement to include regulated seafood products under the Tuna Tracking and Verification Program.

Data Submission. This rule stipulates the data and trade documentation for the above programs that must be provided electronically to U.S. Customs and Border Protection and addresses recordkeeping requirements for these programs in light of these changes. One commenter on the proposed rule pointed out that while the data required to be submitted is not new it has not previously been required at the time of entry/release, which could increase processing costs for importers as well as the potential for disruptions as the data moves through the Automated Commercial Environment pipeline to CBP and NMFS. However, NMFS has confirmed that this data will be required at the time of entry/release to ensure that only admissible products are permitted into the U.S. market. NMFS also notes that it is only requiring the minimum amount of data necessary to determine admissibility to be submitted at entry.

Importer of Record. NMFS has affirmed that the IFTP obligation and associated recordkeeping and reporting requirements in this rule will reside with the importer of record, regardless of whether it has a direct financial interest in the imported goods. Related to this, NMFS has clarified that entities not resident in the U.S. are ineligible to apply for the IFTP and that non-resident importers must have a U.S. resident agent apply for the IFTP and have the customs broker provide the agent’s permit number in the entry data.

De Minimis. The rule clarifies that all imports and exports of covered commodities, including shipments otherwise eligible for the de minimis value exemptions ($800 or less for imports, $2,500 or less for exports), must be filed in ACE or AES. In addition, de minimis value imports are subject to the prohibition on importing regulated fish or fish products without a valid IFTP or without submitting complete and accurate information. Likewise, de minimis value exports are subject to AES filing to meet the NMFS requirements for permitting and reporting. However, NMFS has allowed for cases where CBP reporting alternatives can capture and transmit the required information without a formal entry or export filing in ACE or AES.

Other. Other changes from the proposed rule will (a) specify the various transactions that pertain to seafood previously imported for purposes other than immediate consumption (e.g., withdrawal from a foreign-trade zone or bonded warehouse for entry into U.S. commerce) and for which the permitting, reporting and recordkeeping requirements apply; and (b) continue the exemption from the import documentation requirements and bi-weekly reporting requirements for bigeye tuna destined for canneries harvested by either purse seiners or pole and line (bait) vessels.

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