Trump signs waiver for Anacortes-built fishing vessel

President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed legislation that includes a federal maritime law waiver for a $75 million fishing vessel that has been stuck in an Anacortes shipyard because it was built with too much foreign steel.

The Coast Guard Reauthorization Act grants the waiver to the 264-foot America’s Finest — a nearly completed factory trawler built at Dakota Creek Industries of Anacortes to fish off Alaska, The Seattle Times reported.

The vessel’s owner, Fishermen’s Finest of Kirkland, contracted with Dakota Creek Industries but the construction shipyard ran afoul of the federal Jones Act because the steel used in its hull was cut and bent in Holland.

Dakota Industries shipyard officials have said they didn’t realize that the overseas work was extensive enough to violate the federal law.

The legislation offers a kind of conditional waiver, authorizing the U.S. Commerce secretary to revoke the waiver should an investigation determine the violation was intentional.

The U.S. Coast Guard will now complete a 30-day review of whether Dakota Creek or Fisherman’s Finest, the company that contracted Dakota Creek to build America’s Finest, knew components used to build the vessel violated the Jones Act.

Before clearing Congress last week, the waiver failed to get through Congress twice in the past two years.

Dakota Creek has let go more than half its employees since learning of the Jones Act violation, company Vice President Mike Nelson said.

“This has been a very difficult and stressful two years for Dakota Creek,” Nelson said in a press release. “The signing of this bill is a huge relief for all our employees.”

Now that the waiver has been secured, he said the company has started hiring again, according to the Skagit Valley Herald.

The waiver puts some limitations on the ship’s fishing capacity by capping the amount of fish the vessel can harvest and deliver.