Senate scheduled to vote Wednesday on waiver for Fishermen's Finest vessel

Published on
November 14, 2018

Fishermen’s Finest may get to sail its new vessel in U.S. waters after all.

Later today, 14 November, the U.S. Senate is scheduled to vote on the reauthorization act for the Coast Guard. Officials told SeafoodSource the bill contains a provision granting the company a Jones Act waiver for America’s Finest, a USD 75 million (EUR 66.2 million) vessel built by Dakota Creek Industries in a Washington state shipyard.

The vessel needed the waiver because it was created with about 10 percent of its steel coming from the Netherlands. The Jones Act only allows American vessels that carry goods between U.S. ports to contain 1.5 percent of foreign steel.

Officials from Fishermen’s Finest could not be reached for comment.

If the Senate approves the reauthorization bill, it will still need the approval of the U.S. House of Representatives. Reid Walker, a spokesman for U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) told SeafoodSource a House vote likely would come after Thanksgiving in November or in early December.

Last year, the House approved a Homeland Security authorization bill that included the waiver. However, the waiver was dropped in the Senate’s version of the bill. By late March, Fishermen’s Finest’s president said selling the ship – at a substantial loss – was an option. 

Then, in July, the House approved a second bill that included a waiver. However, a Dakota Creek official expressed some skepticism to the Skagit Valley Herald after that vote.

“They say it looks good this time (in the Senate), but every time (we) hear that, we’ve just had some really bad luck on this,” Mike Nelson, a Dakota Creek vice president, said. 

However, Walker said Cantwell’s persistence led to the provision’s inclusion in Wednesday’s Senate vote.

“A waiver was never off the table and Senator Cantwell never gave up on getting it done,” he said.

America’s Finest is a 264-foot catcher-processor trawler that company officials hope eventually will replace two older vessels in its fleet.

Photo courtesy of National Fisherman/Jeff Pond

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