Coast Guard:

Implementation of Anti-Reflagging Act

RCED-98-234R: Published: Jul 16, 1998. Publicly Released: Jul 16, 1998.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on aspects of the Coast Guard's actions to implement the Anti-Reflagging Act, focusing on the Coast Guard's actions to use the act's grandfather provisions to exempt from the act's American control and foreign building requirements 23 fishing industry vessels that were being rebuilt or were planned to be rebuilt overseas when the act was enacted.

GAO noted that: (1) before regulations were promulgated to implement the act, the Coast Guard issued letter rulings to respond to requests from vessel owners about a vessel's eligibility for exemption under the act's rebuilding and American control requirements; (2) these letter rulings made determinations, based on evidence provided by vessel owners, on whether the act's eligibility conditions were met; (3) once all of the information on eligibility conditions was provided for the 23 vessels, the Coast Guard, through its vessel-documentation function, licensed the vessels to participate in the U.S. fisheries; (4) the rulemaking process leading to the promulgation of regulations for the act occurred in two steps; (5) the first was to develop an interpretive rule, issued October 20, 1988, to amend vessel documentation regulations to ensure consistency with the act's provisions, except for the American control provisions; and (6) a second rulemaking to address the American control provisions was completed on December 12, 1990, about 3 years after the act's enactment.

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