American Fisheries Act Homepage

American Fisheries Act Program

The American Fisheries Act of 1998, incorporated in the Omnibus Consolidated and Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act, 1999 (Public Law 105-277), designated the Maritime Administration as the agency responsible for ensuring compliance with the U.S. citizen ownership and control requirements for U.S.-flag fishing industry vessels of 100 feet and greater in registered length.  The law eliminated exemptions for vessels that could not meet pre-AFA citizenship standards, phased out of operation many of the largest fishing vessels thought to be destructive to fishery resources, and placed restrictions on the types of entities that hold preferred mortgages on fishing industry vessels of 100 feet or greater.

Foreign investment in the fisheries of the United States is limited by the American Fisheries Act ("AFA") which increased the amount of U.S. citizen ownership and control necessary for a vessel to be eligible for documentation with a fishery endorsement from 51 percent to 75 percent.  In order to document a vessel with a fishery endorsement, the AFA requires that 75 percent of the ownership and control of the vessel be vested in United States citizens at each tier and in the aggregate.  The Maritime Administration is charged with determining, through "rigorous review" of various documents, whether vessels of 100 feet or greater in length are owned and controlled by U.S. citizens and eligible for documentation with a fishery endorsement.  In addition, the Maritime Administration must determine whether lenders are qualified to hold a preferred mortgage on such vessels.  If a lender is not qualified to hold a preferred mortgage on a fishing industry vessel, it must utilize an approved mortgage trustee to hold the preferred mortgage for its benefit, and the Maritime Administration must review the entire transaction to determine whether it results in an impermissible transfer of control to a non-citizen. The Maritime Administration's AFA implementing regulations can be found at 46 C.F.R. Part 356.

Statutes and Regulations

 

Program Materials

 

213(g) Information

The American Fisheries Act Section 213(g) International Agreements

In the event that any provision of section 12102(c) (now codified at 46 U.S.C.  Sec. 12113) or section 31322(a) of title 46, United States Code, as amended by this Act, is determined to be inconsistent with an existing international agreement relating to foreign investment to which the United States is a party with respect to the owner or mortgagee of a vessel with a fishery endorsement, such provision shall not apply to that owner or mortgagee with respect to their ownership or mortgage interest in such vessel on that date to the extent of any inconsistency.

The provision of section 12102(c) (now codified at 46 U.S.C. Sec. 12113) and section 31322(a) of title 46, United States Code, as amended by this Act, shall apply to all subsequent owners and mortgagees of such vessels, and shall apply, notwithstanding the preceding sentence, to the owner on such vessel if any ownership interest in that owner is transferred to or otherwise acquired by a foreign ownership in the vessel is increased after the effective date of this subsection.

Treaties

 

Helpful Links

AFA Contacts

Thelma Goldring
Maritime Administration
Office of the Chief Counsel
Second Floor, West Building
1200 New Jersey Ave., S.E.
Washington, DC 20590
Phone (202) 366-5186
FAX: (202) 366-7485
E-mail: Thelma.Goldring@dot.gov

T. Mitchell Hudson, Jr. Esq.
Maritime Administration
Office of the Chief Counsel
Second Floor, West Building
1200 New Jersey Ave., S.E.
Washington, DC 20590
Phone: (202) 366-9373
FAX: (202) 366-7485
E-mail: Mitch.Hudson@dot.gov

Michael C. Pucci, Esq.
Maritime Administration
Office of the Chief Counsel
Second Floor, West Building
1200 New Jersey Ave., S.E.
Washington, DC 20590
Phone (202) 366-5167
FAX: (202) 366-7485
E-mail: Michael.Pucci@dot.gov

Ship Operations Cooperative Program
Maritime Research & Development
Inland Container on Barge
Intermodal Access to U.S. Ports and Marine Terminals