Murkowski Bill Would Provide Permanent Protection from “Nonsensical” EPA Discharge Regs for Fishing Boats

Senator Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Exempt Fishing Fleet from Onerous E.P.A. Permit and “Fish Gut” Fines

Senator Lisa Murkowski today introduced legislation to permanently block an EPA incidental discharge regulation that poses serious threats to Alaska’s fisherman and coastal communities.  The flawed regulation is written so broadly that it would penalize Alaska’s fisherman and more than 8,000 boats statewide simply for rinsing fish guts off their deck, or rainwater washing other materials off their decks.

The bill – co-sponsored by Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) – would make permanent the three year moratorium from the regulation’s requirements for commercial fishing vessels and commercial vessels under 79 feet that Senator Murkowski championed as part of the Coast Guard Reauthorization Bill signed into law in December. At that time, Alaska’s fishing community hailed the move as a fight against “nonsensical” and overbroad regulations.

(Murkowski discusses impacts of EPA discharge penalty, December 2014 – Click to view.)

Last year when she was fighting for the three year moratorium, Senator Murkowski explained to her Senate colleagues the unacceptable standard that would be imposed on Alaska’s fishing fleet in a speech on the Senate floor, saying:

For those who need a little more graphic detail as to what we're talking about, when you take a commercial fishing vessel out, your 45-foot commercial fishing vessel, and you have a good day fishing, you've got some salmon guts on the deck.  You've got a little bit of slime. You hose it off.  That would be an incidental discharge that would be reportable to the E.P.A., and if you fail to report, you could be subject to civil penalties. That's what we're talking about here.