US - It went down to the wire, but fishermen were relieved to learn they can continue to hose down their decks without fear of violating the Clean Water Act.


Congress voted unanimously this week to extend a moratorium for three years that exempts commercial fishing vessels 79 feet and under from needing incidental discharge permits from the Environmental Protection Agency for deck wash. The current moratorium, which affects 8,500 Alaska vessels, was set to expire on Dec.18.


The regulation is aimed at preventing fuels, toxins or hazardous wastes from entering the water. That makes sense, said Senator Lisa Murkowski, but needing permits for hosing down a boat is going overboard – especially when recreational boats, even 300 foot yachts, are exempt from the rule.


“We want to abide by environmental regulations that make sense,” Murkowski said in a phone call from DC. “But I don’t think any of us believe it should be a requirement for a fishermen who has had a good day out on the water and they are cleaning up the boat and hosing slime and maybe some fish guts off the deck and that then becomes a reportable discharge to the EPA.”


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