Newsletter: Board Meeting; Electronic Logbooks; Chinese Duty Evasion

SSA’s Fall Board Meeting In Tampa, Florida

SSA will hold its 2011 Fall Board Meeting on Thursday and Friday, November 3rd & 4th in Tampa, Florida. Presentations will be given by a number of invited guests from several organizations and agencies including the National Marine Fisheries Service and The Gulf and South Atlantic Fisheries Foundation. The Meeting will begin Thursday morning and adjourn by noon on Friday. All are welcome until the Executive Session scheduled for 10:00AM on Friday. Topics scheduled for discussion include an array of shrimp industry related issues such as fishery research and management issues, trade, legislative and marketing reports and updates on the GCCF and TAA.


Electronic Logbooks

The Southern Shrimp Alliance has taken a number of important steps forward in its longstanding initiative to ensure continuation of the NMFS electronic logbook (ELB) program so critical to the future of the shrimp fishery. In fact, this may be the single most important research program to the shrimp fisheries. To date, this program has funded the deployment of ELBs on approximately 500 shrimp vessels along with the collection and analysis of data essential to core fishery management actions.

The precise spatial and temporal data on shrimp fishing effort collected by ELBs has been used in numerous circumstances to prevent devastating time/area closures of the shrimp fishery that would have otherwise been required to protect various bycatch species. The data is also used to conduct annual stock assessments of white, brown, pink and royal red shrimp stocks essential to the successful management and sustainability of our shrimp resources.

Perhaps most prominently, the program is central to the ongoing implementation of the Gulf Council’s red snapper rebuilding plan and associated agency regulations in which vast time/area closures of the shrimp fishery are required to reduce red snapper bycatch mortality if annual estimates of shrimp fishing effort exceed management caps. Since being implemented as part of Amendment 27/14 to the shrimp and reef fish fishery management plans adopted in 2007, shrimp industry compliance with the effort caps has been 100% and not a single closure of the fishery has occurred.

The program is also critical to evaluate the shrimp fishery’s interactions with endangered and threatened sea turtles, endangered smalltooth sawfish and overfished blacknose sharks. In each and every one of these cases, the program and data generated has been essential to SSA’s successful efforts to prevent broad time/area closures of the fishery.

Long funded at the request of SSA through Congressional directives in annual appropriations bills, the program now must be absorbed into the NMFS budget due to the Congressional ban on earmarks. Consequently, SSA is working on a number of fronts to pressure and convince the agency to maintain funding for the program before it expires in November.

For example, SSA recently worked with the Gulf Shrimp Scientific and Statistical Committee to adopt the following motion at its recent meeting. This sends a very powerful message from the leaders of the scientific community.

“The SSC strongly recommends that NMFS and the Gulf Council continue Electronic Logbook (ELB) funding for all Gulf shrimp stocks, and that it be made a priority.”

Further, at SSA’s request, yesterday the Gulf Council adopted the following motion. This likewise sends a very powerful message of how important this program is to fishery managers.

“To request staff prepare a letter to Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, Eric Schwaab strongly endorsing the agency’s continuation of the Electronic Logbook (ELB) program for collecting and analyzing shrimp fishing effort as necessary to perform shrimp stock assessments, implement the red snapper rebuilding plan, and conduct other critical bycatch reduction efforts.”

Finally, in addition to numerous meetings with agency leadership, SSA is also working closely with prominent members of the US Senate to send a strong message to NOAA Administrator Dr. Jane Lubchenco that the agency must maintain a fully functional ELB program.


Coalition to Enforce Antidumping & Countervailing Duty Orders Decries Circumvention of Trade Relief on Chinese Imports in Statement to Ways & Means Committee

On October 25th, the Coalition to Enforce Antidumping & Countervailing Duty Orders submitted a written statement to the United States House of Representatives Committee on Ways & Means emphasizing the continued and growing problem of duty evasion by U.S. importers of Chinese goods.  The Coalition, composed of representatives of eleven different trade-affected U.S. industries (including the Southern Shrimp Alliance), explained that illegal circumvention schemes deprived domestic manufacturers harmed by unfair trade of hard-won trade relief while simultaneously cheating U.S. taxpayers out of revenue lawfully owed to the U.S. Treasury.

According to the estimates of eight of the domestic industries that comprise the Coalition, circumvention cost the U.S. Treasury over $400 million in duties annually, primarily due to illegal transshipment schemes that falsely declare Chinese imports to be the product of Taiwan, Malaysia, Korea, and other Asian countries.  The collective experience of the diverse industry groups within the Coalition – ranging from chemical producers to tissue producers to pipe producers to shrimp fishermen – underscores how prevalent circumvention practices have become amongst U.S. importers.

The Coalition’s full statement is available here:

10-25-11 Coalition Statement to the United States House of Representatives Committee on Ways & Means


Ad Hoc Shrimp Trade Action Committee Submits Comments Continuing to Object to the Commerce Department’s Refusal to Consider Evidence of Circumvention of Antidumping Duty Order on Chinese Shrimp

On October 25th, the Ad Hoc Shrimp Trade Action Committee (AHSTAC) submitted extensive comments to the U.S. Department of Commerce voicing objection to the agency’s continued refusal to consider overwhelming evidence of circumvention and duty evasion in its administrative reviews of the antidumping duty order on shrimp from China.  The comments were submitted in response to a draft remand determination issued by the Commerce Department following a successful appeal to the Court of International Trade.  AHSTAC argues that Commerce has failed to meaningfully address the Court’s criticisms and fallen short of its legal obligations.

AHSTAC’s comments reflect acute concerns regarding the inability of government agencies to staunch the flow of millions of pounds of Chinese shrimp that enter the United States each year illegally.  Because Commerce’s administrative review process only involves shrimp imports declared by U.S. importers to be subject to antidumping duties, these reviews fail to encompass Chinese shrimp entered into the United States by U.S. importers who have falsely declared the merchandise to not be subject to antidumping duties.

Commerce will now consider AHSTAC’s comments and submit a final remand determination to the Court of International Trade for review.

AHSTAC’s full comments are available here: 10-25-11 AHSTAC Comments on Draft Remand

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