I spoke with my friend, Devon Strunk, who is in the United States Coast Guard. As part of their branch, they perform search and rescue missions in addition to maritime law enforcement. Section 312 of the Clean Water Act outlines regulations on sewage discharges from vessels, to be jointly implemented by the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Coast Guard. This act recognizes the pollution of waters as unlawful, and negligent on the behalf of vessels out at sea. That being said, it is illegal to dump untreated sewage within three miles of shore or on inland waters. There are financial penalties for doing so in attempt to discourage this action. Also existing are NDZs (No Discharge Zones) to protect certain areas from the harmful bacteria in human waste. Bacteria in sewage is capable of creating algal blooms, possibly wiping out an aquatic system and deteriorating the health of the waters. Sewage should be processed either onshore, or through a marine sanitary device which can be installed on a vessel.
Regulation of this kind is absolutely necessary for not only the health of marine ecosystems, but for humans too. To put it bluntly, nobody wants to swim in poop. I also feel like there’s a certain taboo around sewage, and that may be what’s preventing higher standards of sanitation. It is crucial to regulate and monitor sewage discharge because if ignored, all life in the water could die. What would that mean for commercial fishermen and the economy, or the people who depend on fish for food? Part of our identity in Seattle are the ports and the Puget Sound. If we do not pay attention to or take care of the waters, it could prove disastrous for aquatic life and the economy which seems to be the undeserving focus of Americans today.