A recent federal court decision possibly will be a good news/bad news proposition for bass anglers and other boat owners.
The U.S. Court of Appeals 2nd Circuit ruled that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) failed in its responsibility under the Clean Water Act to protect the nation's waters from aquatic invasive species introduced by ballast water discharge. The most glaring evidence of that has been the introduction of zebra and quagga mussels into the Great Lakes by ocean-going ships. They've since spread across much of the country, forcing states, cities, and businesses to spend billions of dollars annually for control costs and/or to mitigate damage.
Additionally, troublesome round gobies and dozens of other species also have hitched a ride to this country in ballast water.
As a consequence of this action, EPA must develop stricter regulations regarding ballast water, although the court did not set a deadline. In responding to the decision, the agency said that won't happen until 2018, adding that it still is "studying the recent decision by the 2nd Circuit to determine the best course of action."
Environmental groups, which sued EPA over its ballast water policy, praised the decision.
“This is a huge win for our environment, economy, fish, wildlife, communities, and businesses,” said Marc Smith, policy director for the National Wildlife Federation.
“The court, in no uncertain terms, has told the federal government that it needs to uphold its responsibility under the Clean Water Act to protect our drinking water, jobs, and way of life. This decision is welcome news for the millions of families, anglers, hunters, paddlers, beach-goers, and business owners who have borne the brunt of damages from aquatic invasive species for far too long."
But Bill Frazier, conservation director for the North Carolina B.A.S.S. Nation, warned that with this good news possibly comes some bad.
"This is a very big deal," he said. "As with most things, EPA possibly will overreach and extend (its restrictions) to all waters. If so, this may be the death knell for recreational boaters moving from one water body to another."
Frazier added that specific consequences might include mandatory inspections and/or certificates for moving boats from one lake to another, fees to pay for such programs, and possible closing of access areas if costs prove to be prohibitive.