Waiver for fishing vessel signed into law

December 6, 2018

America’s Finest, pictured in 2017, is a state-of-the-art fishing vessel built at Dakota Creek Industries.

President Donald Trump signed a bill into law Tuesday that finalizes a waiver for the fishing vessel America’s Finest.

The waiver will allow the $75 million ship, built by Dakota Creek Industries in Anacortes, to sail in U.S. waters, according to a news release from U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen.

The ship needed a waiver because Dakota Creek used too much foreign-fabricated material in the ship’s hull, thus violating the Jones Act.

The U.S. Coast Guard will now complete a 30-day review of whether Dakota Creek or Fisherman’s Finest, the company that contracted Dakota Creek to build America’s Finest, knew components used to build the vessel violated the Jones Act.

Before clearing Congress last week, the waiver failed to get through Congress twice in the past two years.

Dakota Creek has let go more than half its employees since learning of the Jones Act violation, company Vice President Mike Nelson said previously.

“This has been a very difficult and stressful two years for Dakota Creek,” Nelson said in the release. “The signing of this bill is a huge relief for all our employees.”

Now that the waiver has been secured, he said the company has started hiring again.

“We definitely have to take the (Coast Guard) review seriously, but we’re starting to try to get back to normal,” he said.

Fishermen’s Finest previously announced it would sell the vessel abroad if it did not secure a waiver.

The ship is the largest catcher and processor built in the U.S. in the past 30 years, Fishermen’s Finest President Dennis Moran said previously.

The waiver puts some limitations on the ship’s fishing capacity by capping the amount of fish the vessel can harvest and deliver. The limitations also apply to the vessels U.S. Intrepid and American No. 1, which are owned by Fishermen’s Finest.

Moran declined to comment on the limitations until the Coast Guard completes its analysis.

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