Murkowski Protects 8,500 Alaska Fishing Boats from Costly Regulation
Senator’s Work Against Onerous E.P.A. Permit Succeeds
Senator Lisa Murkowski today succeeded in brokering a bipartisan agreement to block a costly and redundant EPA regulation on Alaska’s commercial fishing fleet and commercial vessels under 79 feet that would have hurt fishermen and coastal communities. Today’s unanimous U.S. Senate vote comes just weeks after Murkowski introduced a bill with Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) to extend the current moratorium and co-sponsored efforts establish a permanent exemption. Since then, she has been engaged in continuous negotiations with Senators to reach a workable solution.
With the present commercial vessel exemption expiring at Midnight on December 18th, the compromise she reached with Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), John Thune (R-SD) and David Vitter (R-LA) will shield fishermen from these regulations for three years. The Senators also agreed to work to pass permanent legislation in the new Congress.
(Murkowski -- EPA regulation is about “a little bit of slime” and “salmon guts.”)
Senator Murkowski explained the unacceptable standard that would be imposed on Alaska’s fishing fleet 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.
The vessel discharge moratorium extension, a provision of the Coast Guard Authorization Act, now heads to the House of Representatives for a vote before the current Congressional session concludes.