The Environmental Protection Agency has fined four Alaska seafood processing vessels for alleged Clean Water Act violations. The processors agreed to pay a combined total of more than $300,000 to settle the allegations, which revolve around seafood waste discharge. All four vessels process groundfish in the federal waters off Alaska’s coast, and dump unusable fish waste back into the ocean.
EPA spokesperson Hanady Kader says for years, Aleutian Spray Fisheries, Ocean Peace Inc, and United States Seafoods failed to adequately report how much waste they had dumped, how it had been processed and where it was discharged.
“Some of these companies failed to supply the required annual report, and some of them were unable to produce the daily logs that are required by the permit when we requested those.”
Those logs help the EPA keep track of the millions of pounds of seafood waste offshore processors generate each year. Kader says that’s important because too much waste in a single area can smother the ocean floor, leading to dead zones.
“These records that we require, they help us make better decisions, more educated decisions about how to manage and protect marine habitat and they also help us develop more effective, accurate permits in the future.”
United States Seafoods also stands accused of operating without a discharge permit for almost all of 2010, and Ocean Peace Incorporated is accused of insufficiently grinding its waste. The EPA standard is half an inch, which Kader says helps disperse debris in the water column.
In settling the violations, the companies didn’t admit wrongdoing, and Ocean Peace CEO Michael Faris says he doesn’t agree with the grinding standards since the ships are processing at sea. Nevertheless, he says his company strives to be in compliance with EPA regulations and that they self-reported when they weren’t meeting the standards.
“You know, whatever lapses happened in the past, we’re happy to be able to put things right and make sure they don’t happen in the future. A fine doesn’t really make us do that, we would like to do that regardless of any fine or being forced into doing it. That’s the way we feel about it here, at our organization.”
Ocean Peace Inc will pay $98,000, Aleutian Spray Fisheries is liable for nearly $120,000, and United States Seafoods, $90,600.