Administration Must Hit Pause on Its Proposed Vessel Speed Regulation
NOAA's rule poses serious consequences for the #1 contributor to the nation's $862 billion outdoor recreation economy.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has proposed changes to vessel speed regulations for boats 35 to 65 feet in length, imposing unprecedented speed limits along virtually the entire Atlantic coast, to protect the North Atlantic right whale population.
The rule poses serious consequences to boaters, anglers, and our $170 billion industry and must undergo serious revisions in order to protect local economies, numerous small businesses, thousands of jobs, and the safety of boaters at sea.
The administration must engage and work with recreational boating and fishing industry stakeholders to identify opportunities to monitor the Right Whale population and understand the unique challenges NOAA’s rule presents to our community and achieve our shared goal of protecting marine wildlife without compromising the nation’s number one outdoor recreation activity.
What’s at Stake
Blanketing the entire East Coast with mandatory speed zones will curtail millions of recreational boating and fishing trips.
Extending static speed zones as far as 90 miles from shore could cancel up to 70,000 annual fishing trips in the Atlantic.
Adding more days to enforcement periods compromises marquee recreational fishing seasons.
Over 25% of fishing trips in the Atlantic Ocean occur during the proposed enforcement extension period (November-May). The proposed rule will likely force the cancelling of these fishing trips, impacting coastal economies and small businesses.
NOAA’s proposal would exacerbate existing enforcement challenges.
By extending the static speed zones, the agency will be tasked with monitoring thousands of additional boats for more days in a wider swath of the Atlantic, including areas where right whales have not been observed in decades, or ever.
NOAA's Proposal Must Implement the Following Improvements:
- Return the mandatory speed restriction threshold to vessels 65 feet in length.
- Forgo a blanket approach to establishing speed zones in favor of targeted, data-driven speed zones supplemented by science-based dynamic speed zones that correspond with right whale migration patterns.
- Revise enforcement periods to mitigate conflicts with marquee recreational fishing seasons and peak transient seasons for the right whale.
- Develop an action plan to improve enforcement of existing speed regulations.