House introduces bill to create a licensing system for U.S. flagged purse seiners
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A bill to give the Department of Port Administration authority to establish a local licensing system for US-flagged purse seiner vessels was introduced in the House of Representatives last week.
According to the preamble of the proposed measure the Department of Port Administration and Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources have identified a strong need to establish a local licensing system for US-flagged purse seiner vessels that will aid the territory in seeking full Small islands Developing State/ Participating Territories benefits within the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commissions.
“The American Samoa economy is highly dependent on the tuna industry and sustaining this sector is of critical importance, especially as it will now contribute greatly as another revenue source for the Territory; and the development of this local licensing system shall enable the U.S. purse seiner fleet that supplies the local cannery to be recognized as an American Samoa based fleet.
“This act shall establish a record of locally based purse seiner vessels that regularly land tuna to American Samoa either for use in the tuna processing plant or for transshipment.”
The proposed bill will create a Chapter 6 in Title 20 A.S.C.A.
According to the proposed bill the purpose of this chapter is to issue landing licenses to locally based Purse Seiner vessels that regularly land tuna to American Samoa; either for use in the tuna processing plant or for transshipment, in support of the American Samoa tuna industry.
The Port Director shall implement duties under this chapter; such as issuing a landing license to any owner or operator of a purse seiner who submits the application and documents that are required by the Director along with payment of the required fee.
“Any landing license issued by the Department does not supersede any other license or regulatory certification needed to operate the vessel in American Samoa.”
Other authorities given to the director include revoking of a landing license of any owner or operator under this chapter for any one or combination of the following grounds:
— Fraud or misrepresentation in obtaining a landing license authorized to be issued by the provisions of this chapter;
— willful and deliberate violation of any of the provisions of this chapter or any of the rules promulgated by the Director;
— failure to comply with any qualification or requirement provided in this chapter or any of the rules promulgated by the Director; and,
— violation of any law or rule related to operations of a vessel or any territorial of federal commercial fishing regulation.
“The annual fee for purse seiner landing license shall be prescribed in the rules promulgated by the Director.
“In the absence of any rules prescribing a fee, the annual fee for a purse seiner landing permit shall be $500.
“All revenues collected under the landing license fees of this chapter shall be deposited in the general fund and earmarked fund for the Department to administer this Chapter.
“Any person who is convicted of violating any section of this chapter or any rules promulgated pursuant thereto shall be guilty of a class A misdemeanor and upon conviction, sentenced accordingly.”