Jones Act penalties under new Biden interpretation add up for Alaska pollock shippers, could cause shortages

Dutch Harbor, Unalaska, Alaska, Aleutian Islands, United States

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has cause havoc in the Alaska pollock fishery by issuing Jones Act penalty of about S350 million, according to The Maritime Executive.

The trade publication reported that a lawsuit has been filed by Alaska Reefer Management, a subsidiary of American Seafoods Company over the massive fine. The $350 million in fines could mean pollock prices on the East Coast are seen, or shortages of the popular fish could result across much of the country.

Pollock is served in many restaurants and fast food chains. It is also used to make fake shellfish products, such as imitation crab.

American Seafoods ships pollock through the Panama Canal on foreign-built vessels. After loading fish in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, the ships do not touch any other American port. The frozen product is unloaded in Canada and a very short railway from Bayside, New Brunswick takes the fish across the border to the U.S. The distance by rail is about 100 feet.

This has been going on for years and has been a clever work-around of the Jones Act, which prohibits the use of foreign-flagged vessels traveling from one U.S. port to another, without stopping in another country. According to Martime Executive, 90 percent of the fish offloaded in New Brunswick is then taken to the U.S. by this method.

The railway is certified and registered as a Canadian rail line with the U.S. Surface Transportation Board, said the attorneys for American Reefer and terminal operator Kloosterboer International Forwarding, according to The Maritime Executive.

Located along the south shore of New Brunswick on the Bay of Fundy at the mouth of the St Croix River, Bayside is one of the province’s major commercial centers, with frozen food storage available for up to 7,000 metric tons, and with 3,600 square meters of dry storage area to facilitate shipments of fish, agriculture, wood, and milled products. It formed as a private corporation in 1999 and now has three berths on the single wharf in what is an ice-free port.

Read the rest of this story at The Maritime Executive.

In July of 2018, then-Alaska Commissioner of Labor Heidi Drygas penned an editorial talking about how important the Jones Act is for the Alaska economy and the necessity for keeping it intact. She is now former Gov. Bill Walker’s running mate as they try to retake power in Alaska.

Read more here about Drygas defending the Jones Act.


  1. Wow. I never heard about this before. So the Jones Act adds so much to shipping costs, it is cheaper to go through the Panama Canal to the east coast of Canada than to deliver to a west coast port. Wow.
    It’s pretty obvious that this new interpretation is the result of the enormous influence of shipbuilders and unions with the Biden administration.
    Couple questions:
    If the destination port is in Canada the the Jones act would not apply. I wonder if this is an error and the author means Bayside, Maine?
    Also, why would they not ship instead to Vancouver BC and transport the product to the East Coast by truck or rail?

    • Good points, and I wonder what the answers would be, but maybe the question should be why do we ship pollack to the east coast when that’s where they have cod? Probably the money thing, but it makes no sense.
      I used to truck coast to coast. I’d pick up fish (cod) on the east coast and take it to the west coast. Then I’d pick up fish on the west coast (pollack) and take it to the east coast. Same with crab. Makes no sense in a sane world.
      For that matter, why do we have bananas in AK?

      • Okay. It IS Bayside, New Brunswick. This is totally bizarre. The 100′ rail system does not even have 2 ends. It appears the trucks travel from the nearby dock and drive onto flatcars. The “train” pulls forward 100′ and then reverses back to the same loading ramp. The trucks then reverse off the flatcars and drive about 10 miles to the border crossing at Calais, Maine. So even though the ship does not dock in the U.S., this procedure would still fall under the Jones Act jurisdiction except for the railway loophole.

  2. Is Heidi Drygas, an Obama supporter now dishonestly running for Lieutenant Governor as an Independent instead of as the Democrat she is, a good pick under any circumstances?
    Just another liberal lawyer who’s got zero breadth of experience.
    Look her up…government bureaucrat and union lawyer.
    Undoubtedly thinks the 2020 election was totally legit and now she wants us to put her in a supervisory position over Alaska’s elections as Lieutenant Governor.
    What a nightmare that could turn into.
    Let’s get candidates who have some real life experience on the ticket and stop pushing these little girls all grown up types like Heidi and Kelly.
    And let’s stop letting lawyers run everything…good, honest and hardworking average Alaskans should be making the decisions around here.
    People who’ve had to budget their incomes to cover their expenses and who therefore understand the value of a dollar instead of these overpaid “professionals” and bureaucrats who think taking more from all of us is always the answer.
    Walker is a good example of that. He thinks taking the PFD to fund bigger government is A-OK and Heidi is probably right there with him on that.
    Lawyers and bureaucrats just screw everything up for some reason. Must be their basic personalities coming out.
    Before being appointed to the commissioner’s post by Gov. Bill Walker in December 2014, Drygas served for nearly a decade as general counsel to the Alaska District Council of Laborers. Earlier, she worked as an associate at an Anchorage law firm with practice areas in natural resource, administrative, property, commercial and insurance law.
    A resident of Juneau and lifelong Alaskan, Drygas earned her bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Alaska at Fairbanks and her law degree from Willamette University in Salem, Ore.

    • With a history degree, she’s 90% up on the rest of us who don’t have one. At least she won’t be in favor of reliving the past.

      • With Walker as a running mate??? Talk about “reliving the past”! A history degree means nothing if you choose to rewrite and ignore the true lessons history provides us.

  3. I gotta give them credit for adhering to the letter of the law. It was transported on a Canadian Rail Company. This government insinuation into private enterprise is what you see when people with no business running government get involved and decide tyranny is better than freedom. Walker and his sycophants continue to be destructive to Alaska and it’s working citizens.

  4. So…who gets the “fine” money, I wonder. Hey, Billy and Heidi, are you two dirty money grubbers enrolled in the Jones Act Dividend Recipient club?

  5. I believe the globalists are sincere regarding their published agreements to bring down America’s economy, supply chains as they imagine themselves the new and highly valued pay master of the private corporation the earth. They have said they are doing it with the one world order. Previous Presidents have announced they are doing it. Soooo, why is anyone surprised. If political faces are not talking about the Constitution and can’t even use the word “republic” in a sentence or if they are all about smart cities NEVER vote for them ever again. “Constitutional rights”, “Republic” are the only words these public servants had better be saying going forward.

  6. i dont really think this has any thing to do with the jones act. it seems like nobody really can figure out what is wrong. i think it has something to do with what the environmentalist have wanted for a long time and that is a way to get rid of all trawlers. they couldnt do it thru normal agencies because there is nothing wrong with the pollock stocks. so the environmentalist got together with some fishing groups and they are all democrats and they found an ally in biden. and he made something happen. he problary doesn’t even understand what was going on but his political hacks made it happen.

    • Do you think the king salmon die in their sleep or are bycaught to extinction by factory trawlers. I do
      BTW I’m not a libtard Dem

  7. It’s amazing that there is an entire economy built on a 100 foot rail line from Canada into the US just to get around the laws put in place by the US to “help” protect the economy of the US, but has resulted in little more than a jobs exportation and loophole making law.

  8. Yeah (NOT)! The Biden administration has found another sneaky way to “sock it” to Alaskans. They must really hate us (and Florida & Texas). It is high time to dump the Jones Act. Those with a history degree should realize that it was solely meant to line the pockets of Washington state and keep Alaska isolated from competition and dependent on Washington state shipping entities.

  9. It is long past due for our Congressional delegation to stand up against the Jones Act that has increased Alaska’s cost of living for decades completely unnecessarily. Instead, they all pander to the unions and military contractors by supporting it, completely ignoring their own State’s interests. If the US cannot build vessels competitively and wants to subsidize its military construction, all tax payers should pay for it proportionately. Alaska is hamstrung enough by distance from the rest of the US without the added cost of Jones Act.

  10. It would be beneficial to understand the alleged violation. If the fish is kept in holds (i.e. not in trailers) on the ship, then it is offloaded in Canada (when it is placed into the trailers), breaking the domestic port / domestic flag provisions of the Jones Act. If the fish is placed in trailers on the ship, it would conceivably not be an “offload” to place the trailers on the short railway.

    The Jones Act needs to go, but it’s unclear what the alleged violation is in this case.

  11. The Jones Act…? You mean the act that was supposed to be repealed when Alaska became a state? And was not because of California, Oregon, Washington, Louisiana and Texas..? You mean that one..?

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