Staggering fee hikes being proposed by the U.S. government for inspections of Canadian ships coming from the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence are tantamount to anti-competitive, non-tariff barriers, according to the Chamber of Marine Commerce (CMC).

CMC, a bi-national marine industry association, filed a submission to the United States Department of Agricultural Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, opposing a proposed federal rulemaking to significantly increase fees for agricultural quarantine and inspection services.

The rule change would increase the fee from $496 to $825 per inspection and eliminate the annual fee cap of charging a maximum of 15 times per vessel.  For Canadian Great Lakes – St. Lawrence shipping, the change could increase their annual inspection costs by as much as 238 per cent. Stephen Brooks, President of CMC, commented that “These staggering fee hikes are unjustified on the grounds of environmental risk and would make Canadian Great Lakes vessels less competitive against U.S. Great Lakes ships carrying the same products in the same waters.”

In its submission, the CMC argues that Canadian Great Lakes – St. Lawrence ships should be exempted from these fee increases as they never leave the bi-national waters of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence navigation system, do not cross oceans, and pose very little risk of introducing pests or infestations to the U.S.  Additionally, these vessels predominantly carry inert material such as steel, iron ore, limestone and other bulk cargoes that are non-agricultural, inorganic and with no containers or packing materials.