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What you need to know about ocean dumping permits

On Behalf of | Jul 5, 2021 | Admiralty & Maritime Defense

Taking care of our ocean is crucial. That is why the government created the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act (MPRSA), also known as the Ocean Dumping Act. The MPRSA prohibits ocean dumping that endangers the marine environment and ecological systems. To dump materials into the ocean, companies and cargo ships need to have the required MPRSA permits.

Eligibility criteria

Anyone who transports material from the United States to dump it into ocean waters needs a MPRSA dumping permit. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) oversees the issuing of dumping permits, and when deciding whether to give the permit they consider:

  • The need for dumping
  • The environmental impact of the disposal
  • The effect of the disposal on esthetic, recreational or economic values
  • The impact of the dumping on navigation, scientific study, fishing and resource exploitation activities
  • The alternatives of disposing the materials on land and not in the ocean

The permits issued by EPA do not contemplate dredged materials. The authority that oversees the dumping of dredged materials is the U.S Army Corps of Engineers.

3 types of permits

EPA Region 06 is the division that gives out the permits for companies and ships operating in the Gulf of Mexico. The three types of ocean dumping permits available are:

  • Burial at sea: authorizes the burial of human remains at sea.
  • Disposal of vessels at sea: authorizes the disposal of old, outdated and retired vessels at sea.
  • Ocean disposal of marine mammal carcasses: authorizes the dumping of marine mammal carcasses in the ocean under specific conditions.

For the disposal of fish wastes, there is usually no permit needed. A company must have a permit for fish disposal if they plan on dumping waste in harbors or other areas in which the disposal could harm the environment.

Effective material disposal

Once you have the permits for disposing materials into the ocean, you will be able to do so in small quantities and with minimal environmental impact. With the EPA permits, you can keep our oceans clean while supporting the economy.