On July 31, President George W. Bush signed a bill that provides a two-year moratorium from National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit requirements for commercial fishing vessels under the Clean Water Act, according to a recent White House press release.
The bill also requires the Environmental Protection Agency to study the impact of discharges incidental to the normal operation of vessels. This includes the types, volumes and effects of said discharges, and the EPA would report to Congress within 15 months to determine if permanent exemptions are warranted, according to a report from U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Ala.) published on ADN.com.
This legislation is a companion to the Clean Boating Act that provides a permanent exemption to recreational vessels to the same discharge permits under the Clean Water Act, which was also approved by President Bush earlier in the week.
The commercial vessels that are covered under the moratorium are fishing vessels of any size and any others less than 79 feet. Sen. Murkowski said neither recreational nor small commercial vessels have documented discharge levels that have been shown to be harmful to the environment, according to the report.
— Elizabeth Ellis