Sunday, January 29th, 2023
Sunday, January 29th, 2023

Breaking News for

Sportsmen Since 1967

Outdoor Observations

CLEAN BOATING ACT. I received an enlightening e-mail as this
paper was headed to press from U.S. Rep. Candice Miller, R-District
10, announcing passage of the Clean Boating Act. Without this
federal legislation being passed, recreational boaters and
fishermen were facing a potential hornet’s nest of compliance with
the federal Clean Waters Act.

As reported in the past edition of Michigan Outdoor News, the
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in response to a federal
court case in San Francisco, issued a proposal under the new CWA to
regulate discharges from all types of vessels into the nation’s
waterways. It was to take effect on Sept. 30 and would have struck
down a 35-year-old exemption from the Clean Water Act that excluded
recreational boats from federal and state requirements for
“water-based, non-polluting incidental discharges in the normal
operation of recreational watercraft.”

On the surface, the proposal seemed like a good idea. EPA should
regulate discharges from commercial vessels (ballast) in our
freshwater lakes. But the devil was in the details. Under this
proposal, discharges could mean anything from emptying livewells
and running bilge pumps to spraying off the hull of your
watercraft. And all watercraft, including canoes and kayaks, would
have been included. Heck, spill a cup of coffee overboard and if
your snooty neighbor saw it and had it in for you he could have
filed a frivolous lawsuit under the CWA.

The federal court case initially focused on the discharge of
ballast water from commercial freighters, thought to be the cause
of the introduction of dozens of invasive species into our fresh
water. But the judge expanded the ruling to include upwards of 18
million recreational boats, including 1 million right here in
Michigan.

Now, with passage of the Clean Boating Act, those recreational
boaters and anglers don’t have to worry about such issues that
should apply to just commercial vessels. However, recreational
anglers should continue to take the steps necessary to help stop
the spread of invasive species – cleansing livewells between trips
to new bodies of water, not transporting live fish, etc.

“The Clean Water Act was never intended to force recreational
boats to comply with an extensive federal permitting process,” said
Miller, a co-sponsor of the original legislation. “The Clean
Boating Act represents a compromise with Senate leaders, which will
ensure that millions of recreational boat owners do not need to
acquire an EPA permit before heading out on the water.”

Kudos to the sportsmen and women who contacted their legislators
and urged them to pass this legislation.

TRIBAL AGREEMENT. Some people have trouble swallowing last
year’s consent decree that spells out the rights Native Americans
have in regard to inland hunting and fishing.

I realized just how fortunate we were in reaching the agreement
we have while on a recent walleye fishing trip on Minnesota’s Lake
Mille Lacs. Because of a 50/50 split between sportsmen and tribes
in the total allowable catch, Minnesota sportsmen are handcuffed
with regulations that limit what they can keep. We were forced to
fish within a slot limit that had us throwing back walleyes between
18 and 28 inches. Now there’s something that’s really hard to
swallow.

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