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Subject: Import Restrictions on Certain Mexican Fish and Fish Products
Update: Import Restrictions on Fish and Fish Products from Mexico Caught with Gillnets Will 
Continue Until Further Notice
Please see CSMS for additional information:  18-000482, 18-000483, 18-000484, 18-000502, 18-000595 

This is an update in response to the notification published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the Federal Register on December 6, 2018, entitled “Implementation of Fish and Fish Product Import Provisions of the Marine Mammal Protection Act--Notification of Comparability Findings” ([FR Doc. 2018-26418). As previously noted, in response to a United States Court of International Trade order and in cooperation with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) imposed import restrictions on fish and fish products from Mexico caught with gillnets deployed in the range of the vaquita, a species of porpoise endemic to northern Gulf of California waters in Mexico and listed as an endangered species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.  Despite the results of the comparability findings, discussed more fully below, the current import restrictions will remain in effect until further court action removes or revises the preliminary injunction.  CBP and NMFS will provide notice of any such action by the court.

The import prohibitions apply to all shrimp, curvina, sierra, and chano fish and fish products harvested by gillnets in the upper Gulf of California (UGC) within the vaquita’s geographic range.  To effectuate the court order, CBP and NMFS required that all admissible imports of shrimp, curvina, sierra, and chano fish and fish products from Mexico as country of origin be accompanied by the “U.S. Import Certification of Admissibility” set forth below.  These requirements remain in place.

In the intervening period, ongoing consultations between the United States and the Government of Mexico have resulted in Mexico’s decision to revise its regulatory program to govern the incidental mortality and serious injury of vaquita in commercial fisheries operating in the Upper Gulf of California.  Mexico’s revised regulatory regime bans all gillnets (with the exception of the curvina rodeo-style gillnet), authorizes new “vaquita-safe” fishing gear, bans the possession of gillnets, strengthens enforcement, improves transparency of enforcement actions, and establishes mechanisms for further cooperation between our governments.

As a result, the NMFS Assistant Administrator for Fisheries has issued comparability findings under the Marine Mammal Protection Act Import Provisions for the following Mexican fisheries: Upper Gulf of California shrimp trawl fishery for both small and large vessels; Upper Gulf of California shrimp suripera fishery; Upper Gulf of California sierra purse seine fishery; Upper Gulf of California sierra hook and line fishery; Upper Gulf of California chano trawl fishery, for small vessels; Upper Gulf of California curvina purse seine fishery; and Upper Gulf of California sardine/curvina purse seine fishery for both small and large vessels.  The Assistant Administrator is denying a comparability finding for the El Golfo de Santa Clara curvina rodeo-style gillnet fishery.  Imports from this fishery will hereafter be subject to import restrictions in accordance with 50 CFR 216.24(h)(9) until such time as a comparability finding has been issued. 

However, there is no immediate impact on the trade as a result of these actions.  The current import restrictions, implemented under a preliminary injunction from the Court of International Trade, for shrimp, curvina, sierra, and chano fish and fish products imported to the United States from Mexico, as described in prior CSMS messages referenced above, will remain in effect until further court action removes or revises the preliminary injunction.  CBP and NMFS will provide notice following any such action by the court.
   
ALLOWED DISCLAIMERS
Certain processed commodities under the designated HTS codes, related to this restriction, may be disclaimed and exempted from submission of all certification forms.  If applicable, shipments under HTS codes 2309.90 or 2309.10; or HTS code 0511.99.3060 may be disclaimed.  The importer can make this disclaimer by submitting the statement “the commodity under HTS (list the applicable HTS code) does not contain shrimp or fish products”.  The disclaiming statement must be uploaded into ACE / DIS using code “NM23”, sent by email or fax, or submitted in paper to the CBP port of entry.

For a complete list of Harmonized Tariff Schedule Codes requiring certification of admissibility, the NMFS Certification of Admissibility Form, and instructions for completing the Certification of Admissibility Form, please see the attached documents.
  
***Note that NMFS has updated the instructions/FAQs for the Certification of Admissibility Form and has posted it on this web page –
https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/foreign/marine-mammal-protection/seafood-import-restrictions
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Please contact the Commercial Targeting and Analysis Center at CTAC@cbp.dhs.gov with any questions.