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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Clean Ocean’s Bill House Version Passed, but Senate Version Gutted to Promote Redundant “Study” Rather Than “Action”

Bill amended to add a 2-year study despite overwhelming amount of science to support action

Tallahassee, FL – Surfrider’s Clean Oceans Bill (HB57 and SB444) were originally designed to require owners and operators of Day Cruise Gambling vessels to start implementing a pump out procedures at ports, just as the cruise ships and recreational boaters have implemented. It also provides ports to which these vessels dock the ability to establish and collect fees associated with pump-out and disposal of releases from these vessels. More importantly, it lays down a framework in which Florida can petition to the Federal government to extend sewage dumping restrictions into Federal waters. Due to restrictions in Federal Maritime Law, Florida cannot enact legislation banning sewage dumping from these vessels when they are beyond 3 miles from the east coast and 9 miles from the west coast of the State.

Despite definitive studies from the Pew Oceans Commission, Congressional Reporting Service, U.S. General Accounting Office, U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy and Florida Keys Marine Sanctuary that vessel discharges are contributing factors to degradation of our oceans; Senator Bennett, the bill sponsor, has opted to go against his constituents’ wishes for action. Without this bill there is a continued threat of irreversible damage and lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.

HB 57 passed the House yesterday 108 to 9 after having seen that gambling ships having the capacity to dump 44 million gallons of partially treated grey and black water sewage off Florida’s coast every year. “According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the amount of bacterial pollution in the discharge of sewage from just one recreational boat is equivalent to the amount in the treated sewage of 10,000 people during a similar time period. This is why a major abuser of our Florida waters, gambling boats, need to step just as the recreational boaters and cruise ships have done,” said Greg Gordon, Surfrider Campaign Chairman.

Florida Chapters are in the final days of legislative session and are calling and emailing up a storm to get the House version adopted.

Additional information about gambling ship sewage dumping, the Clean Oceans Act, and Surfrider Clean Ocean Initiatives can be found at:



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