According to the Marine Retailers Association of America, the Senate bill would permanently, immediately and fully restore the permit exemption and expands the definition of a recreational vessel to include small charter fishing boats.
It also includes a section that would allow the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Coast Guard to review whether certain incidental discharges from recreational boats should have some sort of best-management practices. It outlines a three-year process to determine some rules, though a permit would not be part of it.
MRAA is urging action because September deadline is quickly approaching, considering Congress breaks for Memorial Day and an August recess.
In 1973, the EPA recognized it would be unnecessary for recreational boaters to adhere to complex federal and state permitting requirements designed for large point source polluters such as waste water treatment plants, cruise ships, cargo ships, and supertankers. Therefore, recreational boats received a common sense exemption.
The MRAA says it’s a major blow to recreational boating because incidental discharges, such as engine cooling water, gray water, uncontaminated bilge water, and weather related deck runoff would be prohibited without a new costly permit and non-compliance would be subject to a fine of up to $32,000.00 a day.
Other industry organizations, including the NMMA and BoatU.S., also have been lobbying their members to take similar action.
The bill has a Sept 30 deadline for passage, otherwise a requirement that recreational boats have permits for discharge will go into effect.
As of May 9, the bill has 30 co-sponsors, in addition to its original sponsor Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida,. It would still need to go to the U.S. House of Representatives for approval
“Your work is not yet over,” the MRAA said in an alert to members. “We still need more co-sponsors to get consideration in the senate.”
The MRAA is urging its members to send their senators an e-mail by going to www.boatblue.org.