Vessel General Permit (VGP)
EPA currently regulates discharges incidental to the normal operation of commercial vessels greater than 79 feet in length and operating as a means of transportation primarily through the Vessel General Permit (VGP). The first VGP was issued in 2008 and effective until December 19, 2013. On March 28, 2013, EPA re-issued the VGP for another five years. That reissued permit, the 2013 VGP, took effect December 19, 2013 and supersedes the 2008 VGP.
A copy of the 2013 VGP and supporting documentation can be accessed below but for a brief overview of that permit, click here (PDF) (1 pg, 151K) .
Recreational vessels as defined in section 502(25) of the Clean Water Act are not subject to the 2013 VGP. Likewise, except for ballast water discharges, NPDES permits are not required for any discharges incidental to normal operation of commercial fishing vessels and other non-recreational vessels less than 79 feet. However, unless Congress takes additional action, the moratorium from the requirement to obtain permit coverage for incidental discharges from these vessels expires December 18, 2014. In anticipation of the end of the moratorium, EPA published a draft small Vessel General Permit (sVGP) in 2013 to provide for permit coverage for these incidental discharges and intends to finalize the sVGP at a later date.
Final 2013 VGP (effective 12/19/2013 – 12/19/2018)
Final 2013 Vessel General Permit (VGP) (PDF) (194 pp, 1.6MB)
EPA issued an enforcement response policy regarding the ballast water discharge requirements in the VGP. EPA is aware that the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) has received requests for extensions of the compliance dates for USCG’s ballast water requirements, and has worked with the USCG to develop a coordinated response. To view a copy of the enforcement response policy click here (PDF) (4 pp, 147K) . To view copies of extensions granted by the USCG see the USCG's Homeport website .
Vessels of 300 gross tons or more or have the ability to hold or discharge more than 8 cubic meters of ballast must submit an NOI in order to receive permit coverage.
The 2013 VGP requires operators to use the Vessels eNOI system to submit an NOI (with waivers available from using the electronic system only in the limited instances detailed in the final permit). It is important to understand that operators must submit an NOI for coverage under the 2013 VGP even if they had submitted an NOI for coverage under the 2008 VGP. Please refer to Table 1 in the final 2013 VGP (PDF) (194 pp, 1.6MB) for NOI submission deadlines and discharge authorization dates. In addition to NOIs, EPA’s eNOI system allows users to submit any Notice of Termination (NOT) or annual report required under the 2013 permit.
Vessels less than 300 gross tons and that do not have the capacity to hold or discharge more than 8 cubic meters of ballast water, are not required to submit an NOI but must complete a Permit Authorization and Record of Inspection (PARI) form (PDF) (194 pp, 1.6MB) , as provided in Appendix K of the 2013 VGP, and keep a copy of that form onboard the vessel at all times. Doing so will provide permit coverage for these vessels.
All vessels authorized to discharge under the VGP, whether the authorization is through the NOI process or the PARI process, have a duty to comply with the terms and conditions established in the permit and that are applicable to their vessel and their discharges.
EPA proposed the 2013 VGP and sVGP jointly in a federal register notice dated December 8, 2011 (see below). EPA subsequently issued the final 2013 VGP on March 28, 2013 as described above. While the public comment period has closed, as of September 2013, the Agency has not yet issued a final sVGP.
Draft 2013 Small Vessel General Permit (sVGP)
(PDF) (24 pp, 355K)
EPA’s Public Participation in VGP finalization
EPA provided the public with a 75 day comment period on the VGP. Additionally, the EPA held public meetings, webcasts, and engaged in tribal consultation. For additional information regarding the public participation process, please see the VGP Fact Sheet and the Response to Comments Document contained in the VGP’s public docket.
To see the support documents used to develop the final 2013 VGP and the public comments on the draft permit, please search and view the docket at http://www.regulations.gov. The docket number for the 2013 VGP is EPA-HQ-OW-2011-0141. The docket number for the draft sVGP is EPA-HQ-OW-2011-0150.
Additional Permit Resources
Descriptions of additional resources and listings of nutrient and copper impaired waters can be found on the Additional Permit Resources page.
If you are a third party and wish to report a violation of EPA's Vessel General Permit, please refer to EPA's Report an Environmental Violation.
For questions on the VGP, email VGP@epa.gov (VGP@epa.gov).
For questions on the sVGP, email sVGP@epa.gov (sVGP@epa.gov).