Local shrimpers and other owners of small commercial fishing boats around the country will need a new permit to wash their decks if a recently introduced bill doesn't pass Congress by mid-December.

The bill was introduced by senators from Florida and Alaska and would exempt small vessels from the permit requirements.

No matter if the vessel is an outboard-powered trawler or an ocean-faring cargo giant, there is an inevitable exchange of water from the decks or hold with the waterway below.

Such discharges are regulated by the Clean Boating Act, which was passed in 2008. This requires deck runoff and water used to clean components of the boat be tested for contaminants before being dumped.

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