Georgia’s U.S. Sens Max Cleland and Zell Miller are actively supporting the allocation of $750,000 in federal funds for Atlanta’s Fish and Wildlife Service in a letter writing campaign to members of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
“This is the best news that we have received since we were designated a fish and wildlife port,” Donna Mullins, president of the Independent Freight Forwarders and Customs House Brokers Association of Atlanta (IFFCHB), told GlobalFax last week.
The IFFCHB is a member of the International Transportation Council of Atlanta composed of local international transportation organizations that lobbied the Georgia delegation in Washington for the additional funding.
Atlanta was selected in March 1996 as a Designated Port of Entry (POE), one of 22 such ports in the country, to cover Alabama and Georgia for products requiring fish and wildlife inspection. The service is based at Hartsfield International Airport.
According to Ms. Mullins, all animals except for pets have to be inspected as well as a wide range of goods derived from animal products, such as shell necklaces and deer horn knifes.
Under an agreement with the Fish and Wildlife Service, the city of Atlanta paid to the service $150,000 per year through 2001. Currently inspection fees alone are supporting the service and they “fall pitifully short of the current costs of operation,” said Ms. Mullins.
In letters to West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd, chairman of the appropriation committee’s subcommittee on Interior, and Montana Sen. Conrad Burns, ranking member of the subcommittee, Messrs. Cleland and Miller called for an increase from three staff members. Ms. Mullins said that the service needs at least four additional staff members.
According to the senators, imports requiring fish and wildlife clearance have more than tripled from 800 in 1996 to 2,552 in 2001. “The staffing and funding of Hartsfield Airport in Atlanta has not kept pace with this growth,” they said in the letter.
They also point out that direct international flights at Hartsfield have grown from 21,587 in 1996 to 44,596 annual flights in 2001.
In addition, they say that during the same period international air cargo tonnage has grown from 167,194 to 255,707 metric tons, an increase of 53%.
Call Ms. Mullins at (404) 761-2300 or send her an email to firstname.lastname@example.org