Passage of VIDA: A landmark achievement for the Maritime Industry

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.

Friends –

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


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New partnership between the IGFA and NACO

New partnership between the IGFA and NACO
NACO was contacted by the folks at the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) on October 17, 2018 about forming this partnership as a way to provide some financial assistance to those for hire charter and headboat owners, operators, and crews who have suffered from the impacts of hurricane Michael. Our NACO staff has already been working to identify the for hire charter and headboat owners within the area most affected by Michael which is from Steinhatchee, FL to Panama City Beach, FL. Working with the Florida Wildlife Commission and the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission we have been provided the number of for hire charter and headboats licensed to operate in Florida and with federal charter and headboat permits.
We are in the process of providing more information to you and providing our application form for those living and working in the affected area to apply for assistance. Due to limited funds we will not be able to provide financial assistance to everyone and will be looking to help those most in need. We will also be seeking more funding to add to what IGFA has provided. Please stand by as we are diligently working to provide more information to those folks living and working in the affected area.
We greatly appreciate the folks at the IGFA for reaching out to NACO to help in this effort. We are looking forward to working with IGFA on future projects to help the for hire charter and headboat industry. 
For those who will apply for financial assistance from this program be aware you “DO NOT” have to be a member of NACO or the IGFA. This assistance is dedicated for those in need the most and to help folks get back on the water providing recreational fishing opportunities to the public.
We welcome anyone who would like to be a member of NACO as working to improve the for hire charter and headboat industry is one of our main goals. Thanks and look for more information soon.
You may receive the following via email fro the IGFA:
The International Game Fish Association (IGFA) recently announced that it will allocate an initial $10,000 in relief funds from its Worldwide Anglers Relief Fund (WARF) to assist in the recovery efforts of the recreational fishing industry in the Florida Panhandle after Hurricane Michael. 
The IGFA and Costa, a founding partner of the WARF, will be working with the National Association of Charterboat Operators (NACO) to identify those captains, guides and mates that are in the most need of this relief funding. 
We would greatly appreciate you helping us to spread the news about this important work to help get the recreational fishing industry in the Florida Panhandle back up and running. 
If you have any questions or need additional information, please contact me directly. 
Best regards,
Jack Vitek
Marketing Manager
International Game Fish Association (IGFA)
300 Gulf Stream Way
Dania Beach, FL 33004
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Disaster Relief

Hurricane Michael Disaster Relief Effort NACO & IGFA, WARF

Welcome to the National Association of Charterboat Operators disaster web page.  Here you will find information about the Hurricane Michael financial assistance program created by the IGFA and NACO.  The IGFA is a 501 (c)(3) charitable organization where contributions and donations may be tax free depending on your jurisdiction.  The IGFA created the Worldwide Anglers Relief Fund to provide financial assistance to for hire charter services adversely affected by disasters. Since NACO is the national voice for for-hire charter operations across the Nation IGFA contacted us to provide a mechanism to locate as many for-hire charter operations as possible. 

NACO received a grant from the National Marine Fisheries Service in 2005 after the many storms that hit the Gulf coast to do a study on the social and economic impacts of storms on charter boat operations.  The study “Charter Boat Fleet in Peril: Losses to the Gulf of Mexico Charter Fleet from Hurricane Storms during 2005” provides a wealth of information on the social and economic impacts of devastating storms on the charter fleet and is the first and only such study that can be used to calculate the impacts.  You can request a copy of the study from NACO. Since NACO has the expertise of the for-hire charter industry in every area of the country we were a great choice to help distribute helpful funds to those who most need the help.  The 16 member Board of Directors come from every area of the country which gives NACO the unique perspective and knowledge of the industry on a broad scale.  For this funding effort we have created a committee consisting of 3 Board members, all 3 either live and operate in Florida year round or most of the year.  In addition our Treasurer, President, and Executive Director will serve as advisors to the committee.  The committee will be responsible for reviewing the applicants for funding and determine those of the most need.  As should be expected not every for-hire charter operation will be affected the same way.  In many cases economic and physical loses will be minimal while in other cases they will be complete loses.  Your application  will provide the information necessary to determine the hardest hit.  As is stated in the cover letter sent with each application our available funds are limited at this time but we are actively searching for more donors to add to the fund.  We hope to have good news on this front soon. Please check back to this web site often to see updates on the program.  While you do not need to be a member of NACO to receive funds clearly memberships keep NACO moving forward.  Once your charter business is recovered and your business begins to prosper again we hope you will consider membership in NACO as we provide a host of benefits and our regulatory work has saved the for-hire charter industry multiple thousands of dollars and reduced your regulatory workload.  See our accomplishments on this site and we are certain you will agree.  We look forward to your recovery and the recovery of the for-hire charter and head boat fleet in the area devastated by Hurricane Michael.

 To submit an application please Click thislink: MICHAEL_DISASTER_RELIEF_APPLICATION

To all those who have submitted your application for financial help we are continuing to receive applications and are seeking more financial donations to build up the fund.  Please be patient as we are working hard to ensure we capture as many folks as possible and working to provide as much financial help we can.  Keep checking this site as we will continue to provide updates on our progress.

Worldwide Anglers Relief Fund (WARF)

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An Industry Loss...Tom Becker

8649 MMS



It is with great sadness that I report that we have lost a great friend, husband, father, Air Force Serviceman, and dedicated worker for the For Hire Charter Industry, Captain Tom Becker from Biloxi, Mississippi. Tom was a great guy, dedicated family man and dedicated to his country and his livelihood in the charter fishing business.

Tom retired from The U.S. Air Force where he served all of us. He retired to Biloxi and started his charter fishing business, Skipper Charters. Tom became a NACO member in the early ‘90s and was elected to the Board shortly after becoming a member. Tom served on the Board continuously until he had a stroke last year when he decided to resign. He served on several NACO Committees, was Vice President and President during his time on the Board. Tom represented NACO on a Gulf of Mexico U.S. Coast Guard Committee and helped keep access for charter fishermen around offshore oil platforms and worked to include the Gulf charter fleet in home land security issues to add an extra source to secure our shores.

Tom was a tireless worker both in his charter business and his efforts to move NACO forward and to provide regulatory relief for all charter boat owners and operators across the county. His efforts and ideas have helped the NACO Board work to gain legislative and regulatory relief while helping to improve and secure new member benefits. In all his years serving on the Board he only missed one meeting, last year due to his stroke. Tom helped guide NACO through two difficult times and thanks to his efforts we now have a new management company who is moving NACO well into the future.

Tom never refused a request for help and went out of his way many times to help others. His experience, knowledge, and advice were paramount in helping to improve the professionalism within the charter boat sector. He always had an answer and if he did not know one he would find out. He never refused a request and went out of his way to help others. The Charter Fleet off Mississippi will greatly miss him and his efforts to keep all working. NACO members, indeed the entire For Hire Charter Fleet, across the country will miss Tom and his tireless efforts to improve our industry.

I will miss Tom as a friend. He was always there to help and just to discuss fishing and any other issue. I have known Tom, and his wife Dianne, since 1995 when I first became a NACO Board Member and attended my first meeting in Alexandria, VA. We became friends instantly and have been in contact ever since. I will miss his knowledge of fishing off Mississippi and of the charter industry as a whole. I think I speak for all charter boat owners and operators when I say he will be greatly missed as we have lost a true friend.


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NACO Statement: MIssouri Duck Boat Tragedy

Statement from Capt. Bob Zales, II, President, regarding the tragic Duck boat accident in MO,
Sunday July 22, 2018

By now everyone should be aware of the tragic accident of the sinking of the Duck boat on Table Rock Lake near Branson, MO where 17 passengers lost their lives.  On this day of reflection and prayer on behalf of the NACO membership I wish to offer our heartfelt and sincere concern for all the families and friends of those lost in the accident.  The USCG and NTSB are investigating this accident and reports will follow which we will monitor.  While with the limited information presented so far it appears this accident was preventable I am certain more information will be provided soon.  As sad as this accident is I urge all USCG Licensed Captains to take some time to fully understand the serious responsibility we must ensure the safety on all conditions of all those who we carry on our vessels every day and to revisit their policies and procedures of how they handle informing their passengers of safety issues. 

When we took the oath upon accepting our USCG Captain’s License we pledged to ensure the safety of every passenger and crew member on every trip we take.  When they are on our vessels they are our responsibility and we should always work to be certain they arrive back from their experience with us as they left.  I strongly encourage every Captain to revisit your safety plans and think about what actions you can take when an emergency comes up.  Preplanning is the best experience to be able to be prepared for any situation to protect your passengers and crew.  Those of us who own and operate USCG Certificated Vessels must have an Emergency Checkoff List posted for all to see and must have a placard that describes how to properly wear a life jacket.  Such lists should be available on all passenger carrying vessels whether inspected or not.  Captains of COI vessels must perform man overboard, fire, and abandon ship drills on a routine basis and keep a record of same.  All Captains should follow this practice as it helps to prepare you and your crew for an emergency.                       

Preplanning and preparation should help you to ensure your passengers and crew have a great and safe experience on their trip.  I have included a sample of the emergency checkoff lists for your use.  Should anyone have any questions please contact our office. 

Thank You  

Sample Emergency Checkoff List

Measures to be considered in the event of:
         (a) Rough weather at sea or crossing hazardous bars.

□ All weathertight and watertight doors, hatches and airports closed to prevent taking water aboard.
□ Bilges kept dry to prevent loss of stability.
□ Passengers seated and evenly distributed.
□ All passengers wearing life preservers in conditions of very rough seas or if about to cross a bar under hazardous conditions.
□ An international distress call and a call to the Coast Guard over radiotelephone made if assistance is needed (if radiotelephone equipped).

         (b) Man overboard.

□ Ring buoy thrown overboard as close to the victim as possible.
□ Lookout posted to keep the victim in sight.
□ Crewmember, wearing a life preserver and lifeline, standing by ready to jump into the water to assist the victim back aboard.
□ Coast Guard and all vessels in the vicinity notified by radiotelephone (if radiotelephone equipped).
□ Search continued until after radiotelephone consultation with the Coast Guard, if at all possible.

(c) Fire at Sea.

□ Air supply to the fire cut off by closing hatches, ports, doors, and ventilators, etc.
□ Portable extinguishers discharged at the base of the flames of flammable liquid or grease fires or water applied to fires in combustible solids.
□ If fire is in machinery spaces, fuel supply and ventilation shut off and any installed fixed firefighting system discharged.
□ Vessel maneuvered to minimize the effect of wind on the fire.
□ Coast Guard and all vessels in the vicinity notified by radiotelephone of the fire and vessel location (if radiotelephone equipped).
□ Passengers moved away from fire and wearing life preservers.

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