The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will propose on Monday, February 25, to gradually increase inspection fees and update license and fee requirements for importing and exporting wildlife, in order to recover more of the costs of inspecting shipments from those who use these services. The Service is also proposing to add new fees for certain types of shipments and eliminate some exemptions from import/export license and inspection fee requirements.
"These changes will ensure that those who benefit from wildlife trade pay a fair share of the costs of regulating that trade," said Service Director H. Dale Hall. "The proposed fee system will help us maintain vital inspection services and treat importers and exporters more equitably."
Most imports and exports of wildlife and wildlife products must be declared and cleared by Service wildlife inspectors. Individuals or companies engaged in commercial wildlife trade must be licensed by the Service and pay inspection fees for their shipments.
Under the fee schedule outlined by the Service, these commercial importers and exporters will see fees rise gradually over the next five years, but they will be able to plan ahead for increased costs through 2012. The flat rate "base" inspection fee for a commercial shipment inspected at a designated port (including ports that function as "designated" for particular types of shipments) during normal business hours will increase from $55 to $85 in 2008. This fee will rise incrementally each year thereafter until it reaches $93 in 2012.
The 2008 base inspection fee for all shipments imported or exported at other ports will be $133. This fee will also increase by small amounts each year, rising to $145 in 2012. All importers and exporters using ports where Service inspectors are not stationed will also pay travel, transportation, and per diem costs associated with inspection of their shipments.
The proposed fee structure also provides for overtime fees when shipments are inspected outside of normal business hours. As in the past, the Service will collect overtime fees at all ports from both commercial and non-commercial importers and exporters.
The Service is also proposing to charge special "premium" fees for shipments consisting of live wildlife or protected species. Businesses dealing in such wildlife will pay the new premium fees in addition to the appropriate base inspection fee.
Premium fees, however, will also apply to some non-commercial imports and exports involving live specimens or protected species. Importers and exporters will pay premium fees for shipments moving by air, ocean, rail or truck cargo at a designated port and for any import or export of live or protected wildlife at other ports.
"Right now, only businesses pay most of the inspection fees. But many of the more complex and time-consuming inspections our officers conduct involve live wildlife or protected species imported and exported for non-commercial purposes. Were no longer going to rely on businesses to subsidize these inspections," said Service Law Enforcement Chief Benito Perez.
During the first year under the new fee schedule, the Service will collect a $19 premium fee for imports or exports of live wildlife. A separate $19 premium fee will be charged for imports or exports of species protected under Federal law. Such wildlife includes federally listed endangered or threatened species, migratory birds, marine mammals, injurious species, and wildlife protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.
If a shipment contains both live wildlife and species protected under Federal law, the importer or exporter will pay two premium fees. Premium fees will increase each year over the five years covered by the proposed fee schedule, rising from $19 in 2008 to $93 in 2012.
The Service is also proposing to remove some exemptions waiving license and/or fee requirements for specific businesses. Under the new rules, circuses and animal shows and those dealing in furs from certain captive-bred species would be required to obtain a Service import/export license and pay inspection fees. Exports of captive-bred bison, emu, and ostrich meat and aquacultured sturgeon food items would no longer be exempt from inspection fees.
Details of the Services proposal will publish in Mondays Federal Register; a link to the proposed will be available on Monday at http://www.regulations.gov or mailed or hand-delivered to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: RIN 1018-AV31, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Policy and Directives Management, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222, Arlington, Virginia 22203. Written comments must be received by April 25, 2008.
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.