|| Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that in a letter dated April 1, 2011 Senator Daniel K. Inouye has stated that he is in full agreement with Faleomavaega regarding the U.S. Coast Guard’s draft policy on the “Safety Requirement and Manning Exemption Eligibility on Distant Water Tuna Fleet Vessels.”
“On February 28, 2011, I submitted testimony to the U.S. Department of Transportation in response to the USCG’s Draft Policy Letter which was published in the Federal Register on January 20, 2011,” Faleomavaega said. “In my testimony, I corrected information put forward by the South Pacific Tuna Corporation (SPTC) regarding the intent of the original manning exemption.”
“In 2006, Congress approved a manning provision which would allow the U.S.-flag distant water tuna fleet to employ internationally licensed personnel to serve as officers (except for the master). Congress approved this exemption due to a shortage of licensed U.S. citizens and for the sole purpose of supporting a U.S.-flag fleet that operated in and out of American Samoa. Since the time of the exemption, certain tuna vessels have failed to operate in and out of American Samoa, and the Coast Guard is now serious about enforcing the original intent of the legislation. Either the vessels operate in and out of American Samoa, or they lose their exemption.”
“Regrettably, the South Pacific Tuna Corporation submitted testimony to the USCG suggesting that the intent of the exemption was not linked to American Samoa. So, on March 11, 2011, as a follow-up to my testimony, I wrote to Rear Admiral Kevin Cook, Director of Prevention Policy of the U.S. Coast Guard, and we met on March 18, 2011. Admiral Cook assured me that the USCG interpreted the intent of the legislation as I did – that the exemption is only for tuna vessels operating in and out of American Samoa.”
“On March 11, 2011, I also sent a series of letters to Members of the House and Senate who serve on Committees of jurisdiction affecting this matter, including Senator Inouye. I requested their support and corrected SPTC’s misinformation.”
“On April 1, 2011, Senator Inouye responded. His letter is included below.”
Dear Congressman Faleomavaega:
Thank you for your letter regarding the U.S. Coast Guard’s draft policy on the “Safety Requirements and Manning Exemption Eligibility on Distant Water Tuna Fleet Vessels.” I am in full agreement with you that our intent in passing the original exemption was to support a U.S.-flag fleet that operated in and out of American Samoa. Accordingly, I am pleased that the Coast Guard is making an effort to define this requirement in a meaningful way. Please be assured that I will notify the Coast Guard of my support for the proposed policy.
DANIEL K. INOUYE
United States Senator
“As always, I appreciate Senator Inouye’s support and I will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress and across the Administration to make sure that the Coast Guard has the support it needs to fully enforce the original intent of the law,” Faleomavaega concluded.