Shipping vessel owners operating in San Francisco Bay will have to pay an additional surcharge toward training and updated navigation software and equipment beginning next year, under a state bill signed into law this week.
State Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, said the bill, which he authored and which Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law, was introduced as a result of the disastrous 2007 Cosco Busan oil spill in the Bay.
Yee said in a statement from his office today that the spill “reiterated the need to improve the response to future disasters and to develop the technology to avoid them in the first place.”
The bill, which goes into effect Jan. 1, will impose a $20 to $25 per vessel surcharge on shippers, according to Yee’s office.
It will also apply to shippers in Monterey, San Pablo and Suisun bays.
The money will go to the San Francisco Bay Bar Pilots, the association of bar pilots who are required to accompany and assist all cargo vessels navigating the Bay.
Federal investigators believe the failure to install standard navigation equipment on the Cosco Busan was a factor in the Nov. 7, 2007, crash, when the 900-foot container ship struck a Bay Bridge fender in dense fog, opening a 150-foot gash in the ship’s side.
The 53,000-gallon spill resulted in the deaths of more than 2,000 migratory birds, including endangered and threatened species. Damage to beaches, wildlife and the fishing industry was estimated at $70 million.
Yee said commercial fishing and tourism contribute more than $50 billion to California’s economy each year.
Cosco Busan bar pilot John Cota, 61, of Petaluma, pleaded guilty in federal court in March to two misdemeanor charges for polluting the Bay and killing migratory birds. He was later sentenced to 10 months in prison and 200 hours of community service.
The shipping company, Hong Kong-based Fleet Management Ltd., agreed in August to pay a $10 million fine as a result of the spill.