NMMA files brief in ballast water suit

WASHINGTON – The National Marine Manufacturers Association has filed an amicus brief before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals as the court considers a earlier ruling that could lead to a permitting program for most of the recreational boats in the U.S., NMMA reported in a release yesterday.

In the September 2006 ruling, a district court decided that a key Environmental Protection Agency regulation in place since 1973 which exempted recreational boats from a permitting requirement for large vessels such as cargo ships and cruise liners was not authorized by the Clean Water Act.

Under the ruling in the case of Northwest Environmental Advocates, et. al. v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, et. al., the Environmental Protection Agency is required to develop a permitting program for virtually all of the 18 million recreational boats in the United States by September 2008.

“It’s important for us, on behalf of the nation’s 72 million boaters, to inform the U.S. Court of Appeals of the unintended consequences of the ballast water decision,” said Monita Fontaine, NMMA’s vice president and senior counsel of Government Relations. “We are filing this brief to defend boating from an unprecedented, complex, and costly permitting system. Frankly, permitting recreational boats will not stop the spread of aquatic invasive species. The threat from invasive species needs to be dealt with realistically, by stopping their introduction through commercial shipping ballast water long before those ships enter U.S. waters.”

An amicus curiae, or “friend of the court,” brief is the name of a brief often filed in matters of broad public interest by a party that is not directly involved in the litigation but is allowed to share its views on the matter.

“The boating community is doing its part through our strong support for legislation that would stop the introduction and spread of invasive species,” said NMMA President Thom Dammrich. “We have also invested in outreach and awareness campaigns to educate current and prospective boaters about how they can do their part to not inadvertently spread invasive species that have been introduced through ballast water.”

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