Fish Radio
Discharge exemption for deck wash ok’d; USCG Act reauthorized
December 11, 2014   

Vessel Incidental Discharge Act Credit: epa.org

Vessel Incidental Discharge Act
Credit: epa.org

 This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch – Fishermen won’t need permits to hose down their decks, and the Coast Guard bill flies through Congress. More with Senators Murkowski and Begich after this —

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 Fishermen can safely hose down their decks without fear of violating the Clean Water Act. Congress yesterday voted unanimously to extend a moratorium for three years that exempts commercial fishing vessels from needing incidental discharge permits. Senator Lisa Murkowski spearheaded the bipartisan push –

 This is something that every commercial fishing vessel under 79 feet would have been required to deal with an EPA permit to effectively allow them to hose the decks off.  

The current moratorium- which affects 8,500 Alaska vessels – was set to expire in one week. The EPA regulation is aimed at preventing fuels or hazardous wastes from entering the water. That makes sense, Murkowski says, but needing permits for deck wash is going overboard – especially when it doesn’t apply to recreational boats, even 300 foot yachts.

 We want to abide by environmental regs that make sense. But I don’t think any of us would think that it should be a requirement for a fishermen who has had a good day out on the water and at the end of the day they are hosing slime off the deck and maybe some fish guts and that then becomes a reportable discharge to the EPA.  

Murkowski will continue to push for a permanent moratorium.

 The discharge exemption is part of the US Coast Guard Act, which was reauthorized yesterday by Congress. Senator Mark Begich

 Very exciting to get this bill done. It’s something we’ve worked on as chair of the fisheries committee for some time and now seeing it done is good news for Alaska and good news for this country.  

For nearly four years, Begich has chaired the Senate Oceans, Fisheries, Atmosphere and Coast Guard Committee. So who will take over that seat?

 That’s a great question. It won’t be an Alaskan and it will be a great challenge for us. Senator elect Sullivan does not have the seniority and Sen Murkowski is not on the committee. So Alaska will not have the authority that it used to have regarding these issues.  

Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods. Ocean Beauty has contributed over 10 million meals to the U.S. Food Bank network, and is committed to ending hunger in America. www.oceanbeauty.com     In Kodiak, I’m Laine Welch.

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