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Recreational Boaters Win Reprieve on Permits

August 1, 2008

By M.S. Enkoji, The Sacramento Bee, Calif.

Aug. 1–Recreational boaters who were set to pay as much as $1,500 in annual fees for a federal environmental permit were spared this week.

A federal ruling filed last year on a California lawsuit said all sailing vessels should be required to participate in a permit process designed to control the influx of foreign marine life.

The permit process was aimed largely at cargo ships, but the ruling said small motorboats, kayaks and other recreational boats should be included.

Boating organizations, such as the Boat Owners Association of the United States, turned to Congress to exempt recreational boaters. A new law was signed by President Bush on Tuesday that excludes recreation boats.

Without the new law, the permit requirements would have included 13 million registered recreation boats nationwide and nearly 900,000 in California, said Scott Croft, a spokesman Boat Owners Association of the United States.

Environmental groups in Oregon and California had sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, saying the agency failed to stop the invasion of destructive, foreign marine life, such as zebra mussels in the Great Lakes region and Chinese mitten crabs in the Delta and the Bay Area.

Ships sailing to foreign ports would take on ballast water to stabilize the vessel, then dump the water and the foreign marine life once it arrived in the United States.

The agency is expected to begin issuing permits in September.

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Copyright (c) 2008, The Sacramento Bee, Calif.

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