22 U.S. Code § 1980a - Reimbursement of owner for fee paid to navigate foreign waters if fee inconsistent with international law
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(a) Reimbursable fees
In any case on or after June 15, 1994, in which a vessel of the United States exercising its right of passage is charged a fee by the government of a foreign country to engage in transit passage between points in the United States (including a point in the exclusive economic zone or in an area over which jurisdiction is in dispute), and such fee is regarded by the United States as being inconsistent with international law, the Secretary of State shall, subject to the availability of appropriated funds, reimburse the vessel owner for the amount of any such fee paid under protest.
In seeking such reimbursement, the vessel owner shall provide, together with such other information as the Secretary of State may require—
Requests for reimbursement shall be made to the Secretary of State within 120 days after the date of payment of the fee, or within 90 days after November 3, 1995, whichever is later.
(d) Funding; appropriations
Such funds as may be necessary to meet the requirements of this section may be made available from the unobligated balance of previously appropriated funds remaining in the Fishermen’s Protective Fund established under section 1979 of this title. To the extent that requests for reimbursement under this section exceed such funds, there are authorized to be appropriated such sums as may be needed for reimbursements authorized under subsection (a) of this section, which shall be deposited in the Fishermen’s Protective Fund established under section 1979 of this title.
(e) Claim against foreign government
The Secretary of State shall take such action as the Secretary deems appropriate to make and collect claims against the foreign country imposing such fee for any amounts reimbursed under this section.
Source(Aug. 27, 1954, ch. 1018, § 11, as added Pub. L. 104–43, title IV, § 402(a),Nov. 3, 1995, 109 Stat. 389.)
Pub. L. 104–43, title IV, § 401,Nov. 3, 1995, 109 Stat. 388, provided that: “The Congress finds that—
“(1) customary international law and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea guarantee the right of passage, including innocent passage, to vessels through the waters commonly referred to as the ‘Inside Passage’ off the Pacific Coast of Canada;
“(2) in 1994 Canada required all commercial fishing vessels of the United States to pay 1,500 Canadian dollars to obtain a ‘license which authorizes transit’ through the Inside Passage;
“(3) this action was inconsistent with international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and, in particular, Article 26 of that Convention, which specifically prohibits such fees, and threatened the safety of United States commercial fishermen who sought to avoid the fee by traveling in less protected waters;
“(4) the Fishermen’s Protective Act of 1967 [22 U.S.C. 1971 et seq.] provides for the reimbursement of vessel owners who are forced to pay a license fee to secure the release of a vessel which has been seized, but does not permit reimbursement of a fee paid by the owner in advance in order to prevent a seizure;
“(5) Canada required that the license fee be paid in person in 2 ports on the Pacific Coast of Canada, or in advance by mail;
“(6) significant expense and delay was incurred by commercial fishing vessels of the United States that had to travel from the point of seizure back to one of those ports in order to pay the license fee required by Canada, and the costs of that travel and delay cannot be reimbursed under the Fishermen’s Protective Act;
“(7) the Fishermen’s Protective Act of 1967 should be amended to permit vessel owners to be reimbursed for fees required by a foreign government to be paid in advance in order to navigate in the waters of that foreign country if the United States considers that fee to be inconsistent with international law;
“(8) the Secretary of State should seek to recover from Canada any amounts paid by the United States to reimburse vessel owners who paid the transit license fee;
“(9) the United States should review its current policy with respect to anchorage by commercial fishing vessels of Canada in waters of the United States off Alaska, including waters in and near the Dixon Entrance, and should accord such vessels the same treatment that commercial fishing vessels of the United States are accorded for anchorage in the waters of Canada off British Columbia;
“(10) the President should ensure that, consistent with international law, the United States Coast Guard has available adequate resources in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska to provide for the safety of United States citizens, the enforcement of United States law, and to protect the rights of the United States and keep the peace among vessels operating in disputed waters;
“(11) the President should continue to review all agreements between the United States and Canada to identify other actions that may be taken to convince Canada that any reinstatement of the transit license fee would be against Canada’s long-term interests, and should immediately implement any actions which the President deems appropriate if Canada reinstates the fee;
“(12) the President should continue to convey to Canada in the strongest terms that the United States will not now, nor at any time in the future, tolerate any action by Canada which would impede or otherwise restrict the right of passage of vessels of the United States in a manner inconsistent with international law; and
“(13) the United States should continue its efforts to seek expeditious agreement with Canada on appropriate fishery conservation and management measures that can be implemented through the Pacific Salmon Treaty to address issues of mutual concern.”
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