Seafood Harvesters Applaud Passage of Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2018

November 14, 2018 - Published in News Releases and Advocacy

For immediate release: November 14, 2018

Media contact: Leigh Habegger, Executive Director, (336) 414-2681, leigh@seafoodharvesters.org

Seafood Harvesters Applaud Passage of Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2018

Today, the Senate passed the “Frank LoBiondo Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2018.” This bill updates and authorizes U.S. Coast Guard activities and provides long-sought relief for the fishing industry by providing a permanent exemption for fishing vessels from the Environmental Protection Agency’s incidental discharge regulations. It also increases the maximum length for vessels that must be maintained to class, and provides for regional and fishery specific alternative safety compliance programs to be developed.

“The passage of this bill is a breakthrough for the commercial fishing industry and it’s been a long time coming,” said Chris Brown, President of the Seafood Harvesters of America. “We are grateful to the numerous Senators who worked hard to permanently exempt fishing vessels from onerous regulations that would require us to monitor and log any water running off boat decks. We now have regulatory certainty for our businesses instead of operating under stopgap exemptions to these regulations. We applaud the Senate for passing this bill that also addresses our concerns with vessel classification and the development of the alternative safety compliance program.

The bipartisan nature of this bill is reflected in its maintenance of strong environmental protections for our nation’s waters, along with the reduction of nonsensical regulatory burdens on the commercial fishing industry. The bill effectively safeguards our waters from invasive species and provides the Great Lakes states flexibility with regards to the discharge of ballast water standards. Additionally, the bill increases the maximum length of vessels that must be maintained to vessel class standards for newly built vessels and includes language that allows alternative safety compliance programs to be developed in regional and fishery specific manners for existing vessels.

Seafood Harvesters Executive Director, Leigh Habegger, applauded the bipartisan bill, noting that the national commercial fishermen’s organization that represents over 3,900 small businesses and $1.25 billion in economic output has been pushing for enactment of a USCG reauthorization bill for five years. “Nothing unites fishermen more than the waters we navigate and the commitment we share to protect them.” Habegger said. “With the passage of this bill, fishermen are freed from the fear of having to remain tied to the docks from erroneous regulations. They can now focus on responsibly harvesting domestic seafood enjoyed by millions of consumers every day. This bill took a lot of work and we appreciate the sincere efforts and ongoing negotiations on both sides of the aisle. We look forward to working with the EPA and the Coast Guard through the implementation process.”

The Seafood Harvesters of America represents 17 fishing organizations from the Bering Sea to the Gulf of Mexico and north to New England. Find more at www.seafoodharvesters.org.

###