Kloosterboer International Forwarding LCC (KIF) and Alaska Reefer Management LLC (ARM) ) filed a motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction in US District Court in Anchorage, Alaska, on September 2 to stop a US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) enforcement action that threatens their ability to supply Alaska seafood to customers and consumers in the United States.
CBP recently issued Notices of Penalty to companies that harvest, process, store and transport Alaska seafood products to the Eastern United States via the port of Bayside, New Brunswick, Canada, alleging violations of the Jones Act. Kloosterboer and Alaska Reefer Management contend that this was “a shock to the industry” because the route targeted by CBP has been in place for approximately 20 years and relies on a long-established statutory exception to general Jones Act requirements. The route has also been the subject of multiple CBP rulings and court decisions that confirm its legality.
“We are reeling from crippling penalties. Customs has not been forthcoming to share specifics, and Customs’ long-standing guidance tells us we are operating in compliance,” said Per Brautaset, president of Alaska Reefer Management. “We just didn’t have a choice but to try and save our business and our partners’ businesses, and all the jobs in Alaska and other communities that will be lost.”
Until two weeks ago, the industry had received no hint that CBP was reconsidering its longstanding approval of the route and preparing notices of penalties amounting to over $350 million. Nothing in the Notices of Penalty provides any specificity about the alleged conduct that constitutes a Jones Act violation, or any rationale for CBP’s apparent reversal of its longstanding ruling, according to ARM and KIF.
“We are grateful for the support of many members of the US seafood supply chain and their legislators who are concerned by this apparent shift in interpretation without warning. We were forced to halt shipping almost two weeks ago, which has created food supply disruptions and economic hardship to our industry, our customers, and our workers – who risk losing their jobs in Alaska and elsewhere,” said Jennifer Adamski, director of logistics and operations for Kloosterboer International Forwarding
Kloosterboer International Forwarding moves goods from Dutch Harbor, Alaska, the heart of the Bering Sea fisheries, to customers around the world. Together with its affiliate, Alaska Reefer Management, it contracts with ship owners, cold storage operators, trucking and fishing companies to move cargos in a temperature-controlled setting to further processors in preparation for sale to consumers.