Oystermen Take Note: New Small Vessel Discharge Permit Affecting All Commercial Vessels Under 79 Foot Length
December 15, 2014 UPDATE:
On December 10 Senate bill 2444 passed the House of Representatives with no objections and is being sent to the President for his signature. This bill is actually the Coast Guard Authorization Bill but lawmakers concerned about the impact of the EPA’s small vessel general permit described below were able to attach an extension of the moratorium that delays implementation of the permit requirements. Section 602 of the bill relates the the sVGP moratorium. For the full bill text click here.
For many years commercial vessels less than 79 feet were exempt from the Clean Water Act (CWA) requirements to have a permit for vessel discharges incidental to normal operations. In other words, potential waste streams from vessels related to things like fuel management, engine and oil control, solid and liquid waste management, deck washdown, hull cleaning and maintenance, graywater, fish hold effluent, ballast water and overboard cooling water discharges, i.e. anything.
This exemption will disapear this December unless Congress takes action to continue it. In anticipation of the end of the exemption period the EPA issued a new “Small Vessel General Permit” (sVGP) back in September 2014 that will take immediate effect December 19, 2014.
Vessel owners and operators will be required to fill out and maintain a “Permit Authorization and Record of Inspection” (PARI) on board their vessels at all times. This is a self-reporting form and a no-cost permit but the information needs to be maintained and available for inspection on board. The PARI is at the end of the permit link below as an attachment.
For the full EPA Small Vessel General Permit for Discharges Incidental to the Normal Operation of Vessels Less than 79 Feet follow this link. You can also go to EPA’s web page for additional information and frequently asked questions. You can also look at EPA’s own one-page summary of the rule.
Author: Erik Lovestrand, UF/IFAS Franklin County Extension Director/Sea Grant Agent II (firstname.lastname@example.org)