Stakeholders are reminded the EPA’s Vessel General Permit (VGP) program has been a requirement since February 6, 2009. The EPA issued the VGP to regulate discharges incidental to the normal operation of a vessel under the Clean Water Act (CWA), and the program requires that vessel owners and operators meet certain requirements to assure their discharges meet stated effluent limits. The EPA’s VGP covers 26 different types of discharges, and applies to all non-recreational vessels of 79 feet or greater in length. Additionally, the ballast water discharge provisions of the EPA’s VGP apply to any non-recreational vessel of less than 79 feet and any commercial fishing vessel of any size that discharges ballast water.

The EPA and the U.S. Coast Guard have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) regarding matters related to the VGP. Under this MOU, the Coast Guard will assist the EPA with evaluating compliance with the provisions of the VGP during inspections onboard foreign and domestic vessels. On February 11, 2011, the Coast Guard Office of Vessel Activities issued Policy Letter 11-01, which provides national guidelines for the Coast Guard’s efforts to evaluate compliance with the provisions of the EPA’s VGP. Our efforts to verify compliance with the EPA’s VGP will take place during your next regularly scheduled inspection or examination. Vessel owners, operators, and representatives may wish to review Policy Letter11-01 and take note of the minimum items we may examine to evaluate compliance with the provisions of the EPA’s VGP. 

For more information related to the VGP program and links to the EPA’s VGP web page, please visit the Coast Guard’s VGP information page on Homeport at then select the following tabs: Missions > Domestic Vessels > Domestic Vessel General > EPA Vessel General Permit (VGP).