Senate approves Jones Act waiver for Dakota Creek trawler

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(WASHINGTON) — The Senate on Wednesday approved a waiver to allow a $75 million factory trawler, marooned at Dakota Creek Industries in Washington state because it was built with too much foreign steel, to work in U.S. waters, The Seattle Times reported.

The language was included in the Senate’s Coast Guard reauthorization legislation, which passed on a 94-6 vote. If approved by the House, which has done so before, the waiver could end the tangled legal status of the 264-foot America’s Finest, a nearly completed vessel built at Dakota Creek to catch and freeze groundfish found off Alaska.

The vessel’s owner, Kirkland, Wash.-based Fishermen’s Finest, contracted with Dakota Creek to build America’s Finest to replace an aging vessel. But the construction effort went off course when the shipyard had parts of the hull cut and bent in the Netherlands. That action ran afoul of the Jones Act, which requires vessels transporting cargo and people between U.S. ports to have a hull largely made of American materials.

Dakota Creek officials have repeatedly said they didn’t realize that the Dutch work would violate the act. The Senate bill’s language represents a kind of conditional waiver, calling for the U.S. commerce secretary to revoke the waiver should an investigation determine that the violation was intentional.

The Senate language also includes processing restrictions on Fishermen’s Finest that were lobbied for by competitors.

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By Professional Mariner Staff