Regulatory Brief

 NPDES General Permits for Discharges Incidental to the Normal Operation of a Vessel (December 2011)


Formal title: Docket Number(s) [EPA-HQ-OW-2011-0141 and EPA-HQ-2011-0150] Draft National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) General Permits for Discharge Incidental to the Normal Operation of a Vessel

This notice announces the solicitation for comments regarding the Draft NPDES that would authorize discharges incidental to the normal operation of non-military and non-recreational vessels greater than or equal to 79 feet in length.


Brief Description:

This action applies to vessels operating in the capacity as a means of transportation that have discharges incidental to their normal operation into waters subject to this permit. The EPA expects that reductions in vessel discharges will benefit society in two broad categories: (1) Enhanced water quality from reduced pollutant discharges and (2) reduced risk of invasive species introduction.

AVMA Response:

The AVMA recognizes the pressing need for effective actions, based on sound science and coordinated among all relevant stakeholders, to ensure the future health of aquatic animals and ecosystems that support them. Organisms transported in ballast water may be harmful to the ecosystems into which they are released. Introduced invasive species can threaten the existence of native species and may reduce biodiversity. As an advocate for animals and animal health, AVMA is concerned about the possible extinction of animal species and supports effective actions for the conservation of wild animals in their native habitats.

To protect animal, human, and environmental health, the AVMA supports the use of appropriate surveillance and control measures on international commerce and travel to prevent the entry of foreign disease vectors and invasive species into the United States.

We commend the EPA's continued collaboration with the Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force, the National Invasive Species Council, and other authorities and stakeholders when seeking science-based solutions to potential risks posed by ballast water and other discharges of vessels. We strongly urge the EPA to include among the other disciplines consulted on these issues veterinarians with expertise in areas such as aquatic ecosystems, ecology, or environmental

Background Documents:

February 10, 2012 - Full AVMA Response (PDF)

December 8, 2011 - Federal Register Notice (PDF)

Relevant AVMA Policies:

Status Update:

March 28, 2013 - EPA Finalizes Vessel General Permit / Action will help protect US water quality and reduce risk of invasive species (EPA Press Release