Great news and an early Christmas present for all of us and the maritime industry. The news below was sent out by the American Waterways Operators who we have been in a coalition of maritime industry members with on the EPA NPDES issue working to gain this success for many years. The coalition is made up of over 300 diverse vessel owners and operators across the United States and along with NACO includes organizations such as the Sportfishing Association of California, the Passenger Vessel Association, and many commercial fishing organizations.
We provided you the info on the Senate passage of this USCG Act and now that the House has passed it we wait on the President to sign it. The most important part of this legislation is that all fishing vessels of ’79 or less will be exempt from the EPA NPDES permitting requirements eliminating a host of burdensome paper work and permit requirements and possible liability issues with any of those requirements. NACO has been working to gain this permanent exemption for our members since 2006. This has been a long and hard fought effort and I am very pleased we have been able to achieve this success for our membership.
Here is the info I received this morning from Jennifer Carpenter with the AWO. As future regulatory issues are proposed NACO will be involved in every step to ensure that all regulatory and financial burdens are kept at a minimum.
It’s been a long, tough fight, but your collective efforts over many years have paid off: last night, the House of Representatives passed by voice vote S. 140, the Frank LoBiondo Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2018, which includes the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act. The bill, which passed the Senate two weeks ago, now heads to the President’s desk for signature.
Passage of VIDA is a landmark achievement for the maritime industry. It increases certainty, reduces legal vulnerability for vessel owners and mariners, and paves the way for replacement of the Vessel General Permit and its hundred-plus state conditions imposed by more than two dozen states with a national framework for the regulation of ballast water and other vessel discharges jointly administered by EPA and the Coast Guard. VIDA also provides permanent regulatory relief for fishing vessels and vessels under 79 feet. The bill is the result of persistent grassroots advocacy by your organizations and companies; a diverse and united industry coalition; and bipartisan leadership and support from an array of friends and champions on Capitol Hill. It is a shared victory and win-win for maritime commerce and the marine environment. Thank you all so much for the support and hard work that made it possible.
To be sure, there is much work ahead, both for EPA and the Coast Guard as they work to develop the regulations and policies to implement VIDA, and for our industry in helping them do that promptly and well. We will need to work the regulatory process as diligently as we worked the legislative process, and our ability to join forces and leverage our collective capabilities and resources will continue to be crucial. I look forward to working with you on this next phase of our collective effort in the months and years ahead.
But, today, let me simply say thank you, and congratulations on a job well done! Best wishes to all of you, your families and friends for a wonderful holiday season.
NACO continues to work for our industry to ease legislative, regulatory, and financial burdens for all for hire charter boat owners and operators.
Capt. Bob Zales, II