Cantwell Introduces Solution to Shield WA Fishermen from Unnecessary Costs, Delays

Cantwell’s legislation provides regulatory relief for smaller vessels like crab and salmon boats

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) introduced the Fishing and Small Vessel Relief Act (S.2194)  to extend protections for fishermen and small vessel owners from adhering to costly requirements that do not tangibly protect or improve water quality for vessels of their size. An EPA study found that incidental discharges from these small vessels do not generate a significant threat to our waters.

The bill will extend a current moratorium that exempts fishing vessels and vessels under 79 feet from incidental discharge permitting requirements mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). These vessels have been continuously exempt since 2008 under a temporary moratorium as they do not pose a serious environmental risk.

“Fishermen are key drivers of Washington state’s growing economy. We need their boats out fishing, not bogged down by regulations meant for large vessels like oil tankers,” said Cantwell.

Cantwell’s science-based legislation brings stability to small vessel owners who have been at unease due to an impending December 18th expiration of the current moratorium. More than 115,000 small vessels nation-wide would receive relief under the Cantwell legislation. Commercial fishing boats make up the bulk of the protected vessels, but many research vessels, tour boats, tugboats, towboats, and offshore supply boats would also qualify.

The EPA’s vessel incidental discharge permitting requirements are intended to prevent water pollution and the spread of invasive species through release of bilge water, ballast, and other discharges. These regulations are critical to safeguard the environment from large vessels, who are more likely to carry pollutants and run a greater risk of introducing invasive species. Vessel discharge from smaller vessels does not pose a serious environmental risk.

A copy of the bill can be found HERE.