Posts Tagged EPA

Feb 7 2015

Alaska senators hope to toss overbroad fishing-discharge regs overboard


Chris Klint, Senior Digital Producer,


Three U.S. senators, including both of Alaska’s, are pushing to gut the application of an Environmental Protection Agency discharge regulation to small fishing boats they say could punish cleaning up fish guts.

Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, both Alaska Republicans, joined Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) Thursday in sponsoring legislation which would remove the expiration date on a three-year moratorium for commercial fishing vessels, as well as commercial vessels under 79 feet long. The incidental discharge regulation was part of the Coast Guard Reauthorization Bill, which was passed by Congress and signed into law in December.

“The flawed regulation is written so broadly that it would penalize Alaska’s fisherman and more than 8,000 boats statewide simply for rinsing fish guts off their deck, or rainwater washing other materials off their decks,” Murkowski’s office wrote in a statement on the 2014 bill Thursday.

In a December Senate speech on the proposed moratorium, Murkowski offered her colleagues a fisherman’s perspective on what the regulations meant.

“For those who need a little more graphic detail as to what we’re talking about, when you take a commercial fishing vessel out, your 45-foot commercial fishing vessel, and you have a good day fishing, you’ve got some salmon guts on the deck,” Murkowski said. “You’ve got a little bit of slime. You hose it off.  That would be an incidental discharge that would be reportable to the EPA, and if you fail to report, you could be subject to civil penalties. That’s what we’re talking about here.”

youtubeMurkowski Speaks on Senate Floor on Vessel Discharge Agreement — video

Murkowski spokesman Matthew Felling said Thursday that the sweep of the EPA regulations seemed to be a product of being overbroad, rather than an intentional effect.

“I think this was designed for big, huge fishing boats, and they just forgot to make the reasonable exception,” Felling said.

The Peninsula Clarion reported last year that leaders of Alaska commercial fishing groups had questioned the sensibility of applying the regulations to small fishing boats, noting that they would bar pumping rainwater overboard or returning parts of halibut removed from the sea to the sea.

With bipartisan support from Boxer, Felling said Murkowski is optimistic that a permanent version of the moratorium “is going to happen.”

“Sen. Boxer had announced that she’s not running again, and this has been a real priority for her,” Felling said. “We want to make sure this gets done this Congress, to give certainty and security and right a wrong that may not have been intended in the first place.”

Copyright © 2015, KTUU-TV

Read the original story here.

Dec 19 2014

President Obama signs discharge permit exemption for commercial fisheries

WASHINGTON — (Saving Seafood) December 19, 2014 — After Congress voted unanimously this week to extend a three year moratorium exempting commercial fishing vessels 79 feet and under from needing incidental discharge permits from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for deck washing, the President signed the extension into law on Thursday.

Yesterday, President Obama signed into law the “Howard Coble Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2014,” exempting small fishing vessels from the EPA’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) discharge permit requirements. The law extended the exemption provision for three years on the very day that the EPA’s NPDES permit requirements would have taken effect.

The regulation was intended to prevent fuels, toxic chemicals, or hazardous waste from entering the water. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) told the Alaska Journal of Commernce that requiring a permits for fishermen to hose down a boat is overkill – especially when recreational boats, including mega-yachts – are exempt from the rule.

“We want to abide by environmental regulations that make sense,” Murkowski told the Journal, “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…. Let’s use some common sense here.”

Read more about the extension from the Alaska Journal of Commerce here

View the full Act signed by the President here


Jun 12 2014

FDA and EPA Issue Updated Draft Advice for Fish Consumption



Advice encourages pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers to eat more fish that are lower in mercury

WASHINGTON — June 10, 2014 — The following was released by the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today issued updated draft advice on fish consumption. The two agencies have concluded pregnant and breastfeeding women, those who might become pregnant, and young children should eat more fish that is lower in mercury in order to gain important developmental and health benefits. The updated draft advice is consistent with recommendations in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Previously, the FDA and the EPA recommended maximum amounts of fish that these population groups should consume, but did not promote a minimum amount. Over the past decade, however, emerging science has underscored the importance of appropriate amounts of fish in the diets of pregnant and breastfeeding women, and young children.

“For years many women have limited or avoided eating fish during pregnancy or feeding fish to their young children,” said Stephen Ostroff, M.D., the FDA’s acting chief scientist. “But emerging science now tells us that limiting or avoiding fish during pregnancy and early childhood can mean missing out on important nutrients that can have a positive impact on growth and development as well as on general health.”

An FDA analysis of seafood consumption data from over 1,000 pregnant women in the United States found that 21 percent of them ate no fish in the previous month, and those who ate fish ate far less than the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends-with 50 percent eating fewer than 2 ounces a week, and 75 percent eating fewer than 4 ounces a week. The updated draft advice recommends pregnant women eat at least 8 ounces and up to 12 ounces (2-3 servings) per week of a variety of fish that are lower in mercury to support fetal growth and development.

“Eating fish with lower levels of mercury provides numerous health and dietary benefits,” said Nancy Stoner, the EPA’s acting assistant administrator for the Office of Water. “This updated advice will help pregnant women and mothers make informed decisions about the right amount and right kinds of fish to eat during important times in their lives and their children’s lives.”

The updated draft advice cautions pregnant or breastfeeding women to avoid four types of fish that are associated with high mercury levels: tilefish from the Gulf of Mexico; shark; swordfish; and king mackerel. In addition, the updated draft advice recommends limiting consumption of white (albacore) tuna to 6 ounces a week.

Choices lower in mercury include some of the most commonly eaten fish, such as shrimp, pollock, salmon, canned light tuna, tilapia, catfish and cod.

When eating fish caught from local streams, rivers and lakes, follow fish advisories from local authorities. If advice isn’t available, limit your total intake of such fish to 6 ounces a week and 1-3 ounces for children.

Before issuing final advice, the agencies will consider public comments, and also intend to seek the advice of the FDA’s Risk Communication Advisory Committee and conduct a series of focus groups.

The public can provide comment on the draft advice and the supplemental questions and answers by submitting comments to the Federal Register docket or by participating in any public meetings that may be held. The comment period will be open until 30 days after the last transcript from the advisory committee meeting and any other public meetings becomes available. The dates of any public meetings, as well as when the public comment period will close, will be published in future Federal Register notices at

For more information:
To comment on the draft advice on fish consumption:
  • Starting Wednesday, June 11, 2014, submit comments through the Federal Register docket at
Jan 7 2014

9 Reasons To Eat Fish Right Now

All things considered, 2013 was not the best year for fish news. We learned all about the dangers of contaminated fish sources and, just in December, a large-scale study published in The Journal of Nutrition found some evidence to contradict the commonly held belief that a fish-rich diet improved cognitive function in old age.

But, looking forward, the news gets better: In its first issue of 2014, the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics released a new position on fat intake, promoting fatty fish as the go-to source for polyunsaturated fatty acids:

   It is the position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that dietary fat for the healthy adult population should provide 20 percent to 35 percent of energy, with an increased consumption of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and limited intake of saturated and trans fats.

Two “long-chain” omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), are not made by the human body, meaning we need to eat them from a dietary source. Many people get omega-3 fatty acids from plant sources like flax seeds and walnuts, though this type of “good” fat — alpha-linolenic acid — only partially converts to EPA and DHA in the body and doesn’t have the same amount of research behind it that omega-3s derived from fish do. Here are nine reasons to eat fish for your health:

Read the full article here.

Oct 31 2011

Clean Water Act failing in new climate


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently gave California some tough love in the form of a ghastly report card on water quality along our coasts and in our rivers and streams: The state’s water pollution seems to have gotten much worse, with the number of polluted water bodies skyrocketing between 2006 and 2010.

Some of this change is due to more aggressive testing; the blame for the rest is solely our own. And while this news is bad enough on its own, what’s often not discussed is that all of that polluted water ends up downstream in the coastal ocean, already hard hit by decades of abuse.

This is killing the goose that lays the golden state’s egg. Californians depend upon our coastal oceans more than you might realize. As of 2000, over three-quarters of Californians lived in coastal counties, and the state’s coastal economy accounted for $42.9 billion and 700,000 jobs. These numbers have surely risen since 2000, but we’ve failed to be the stewards of these waters that their value – economic, aesthetic and otherwise – deserve.

And the threats to ocean resources keep coming, from climate change to the collapse of so many fisheries stocks worldwide. One challenge we are just beginning to understand is ocean acidification, a consequence of the fact that the oceans absorb a large fraction of the carbon dioxide we continue to pump into the atmosphere. This has changed the chemistry of the entire world’s ocean, making it more acidic. Because this increased acidity dissolves the hard shells of many of the world’s marine creatures (e.g., oysters, mussels, and many forms of plankton), these creatures and the food webs of which they are a part face a difficult future.

The horrible air quality of the 1970s is an obvious analogy to the state of California’s waters today. While the state still has severe air quality problems in places – Bakersfield, the Central Valley, and the Los Angeles region stand out – three decades of concerted effort to clean up our air has led to significantly improved air quality for most of our state. And the benefits of such action are enormous: An EPA report earlier this year showed the direct benefits of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments dwarfed the costs of implementation by a 30-to-1 ratio. This month’s final EPA report on water quality only confirms what we already know, that California must do better when it comes to our coastal ocean.

Read the rest of the opinion from the San Diego Union-Tribune.