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Alaska Fishing Vessels Resolve Seafood Waste Violations

13 February 2014

US - Three companies that operate four seafood processing vessels in federal waters off the coast of Alaska have agreed to comply with Clean Water Act permits that limit the discharge of pollutants from seafood waste.

Golden Fleece, Inc., Blue North Fisheries, Inc. and The Fishing Company of Alaska, Inc. agreed to settle violations of Clean Water Act permits with the US Environmental Protection Agency and pay fines.

“Seafood processors have to monitor treatment systems and wastewater,” said Jeff KenKnight, manager of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Compliance Unit at the EPA in Seattle. “Permits require monitoring to ensure wastewater treatment systems are running properly and so we know the nature of pollutants entering the ocean.”

The four vessels process Pacific cod, Pollock and/or flat fish and discharge millions of pounds of seafood waste each year into the Bering Sea, Gulf of Alaska and North Pacific Ocean. The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System general permits for seafood processors in Alaska are intended to protect marine habitat and species.

Vessels that process seafood and discharge waste into the ocean are required to follow a federal wastewater discharge permit. The permit, issued under the Clean Water Act, requires that seafood waste be ground to a maximum size of ½ inch in order to more quickly spread seafood waste solids throughout the ocean. The ½ inch grind requirement was set specifically for remote areas of Alaska.

In addition, the permit requires floating processors to monitor pathways where wastes exit the vessel to ensure that the pathways are clear, monitor the sea surface for marine animals of concern and floating residues, and monitor metals in the incoming water and wastewater.

The companies have paid fines and brought their vessels into compliance.

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