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Four Alaska fishing vessels resolve seafood waste violations to protect marine environment

Release Date: 02/12/2014
Contact Information: Hanady Kader, EPA Public Affairs, 206-553-0454, kader.hanady@epa.gov

(Seattle—Feb. 12, 2014) 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 U.S. 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 inch in order to more quickly spread seafood waste solids throughout the ocean. The 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.

Golden Fleece, Inc.

EPA found that the F/V Golden Fleece violated the Clean Water Act from 2008 until 2013. An EPA inspection in March 2013 found that Golden Fleece, Inc. discharged seafood waste from the vessel without a permit for three years. Previously, the company had a permit but failed to conduct and record grinder and waste conveyance inspections and failed to submit annual reports in a timely manner. Annual reports describe the production and discharge of seafood processing waste and document the vessel’s compliance with permit conditions.

The company is now in compliance and agreed to pay a fine over $136,000.

Blue North Fisheries, Inc.

EPA found violations on two vessels, the F/V Blue Pacific and F/V Blue Ballard, from 2008 until 2011. EPA inspections in April 2012 found Clean Water Act violations that included unauthorized discharges, failure to submit timely annual reports, and failure to monitor the grinder and the size of discharged seafood waste, the sea surface, and metals. In addition, the F/V Blue Ballard discharge seafood from 2008 until 2010 without coverage under the required federal permit.

The company is now in compliance and agreed to pay a total fine of $94,500 for the violations by the two vessels.

The Fishing Company of Alaska, Inc.

EPA found violations on one vessel, the F/V Alaska Warrior, from 2008 until 2012. An EPA inspection in January 2013 found violations that included failure to monitor and keep records of the grinder and waste conveyance system until 2010 and failure to conduct about half of the required metals monitoring starting in 2010.

The company is now in compliance and agreed to pay a fine over $44,000.

For more information on the general NPDES permits, visit: http://yosemite.epa.gov/R10/WATER.NSF/NPDES+Permits/General+NPDES+Permits#Seafood%20Processing