Clean Water Requirements “Burdensome”

by Laurie Schreiber

GLOUCESTER, Mass.—Enforcement of Clean Water Act regulations are expected to be overly burdensome to commercial fishermen, members of the New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC) said at NEFMC’s September meeting.

NEFMC member Mark Alexander brought forward a motion asking NEFMC to weigh in on the topic.

Alexander said the act, administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, considers a number of different types of incidental discharge, like deck runoff and melted ice. Permits, he said, obligate vessels to undergo extensive inspections, monitoring, and recordkeeping, and requires corrective actions and potential penalties for non-compliance.

However, Alexander noted, NEFMC doesn’t have the authority to exempt fishing vessels from the regulations, since they fall under the purview of another federal agency.

“I suppose that, if we want to pursue this, we could find out what exactly the regulations are that are a problem,” said NEFMC Executive Director Tom Nies.

NEFMC member Michael Sissenwine said the issue came up with respect to the charter head boat fishery.

“The agency is aware of the issue,” Sissenwine said, adding, “As a council, I don’t think we should get too heavily into this, but it might be appropriate to bring this to the attention of the agency” for consideration at the interagency level.