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 pause its proposal and engage recreational boating and fishing stakeholders to better understand the unique challenges NOAA’s rule present to our community and achieve our shared goal of protecting the right whale without compromising the nation’s number one outdoor recreation activity.

 

What’s at Stake

 
$170 B
in U.S. economic impact
 
70,000
East Coast annual recreational fishing trips
 
63,000+
registered vessels along East Coast

 

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.

 

Resources
 
 
Press Release: Vessel Speed Restrictions will Cripple Coastal Communities, Fail to Protect Right Whales
 
 
NMMA Comments on Vessel Speed Rule
 
 
Recreational Boating and Fishing Industry Comments to NOAA
 
 
Letter: Marine Industry CEOs Call for Immediate Pause to NOAA’s Rule
 
 
Understanding NOAA’s Proposed Seasonal Speed Zones for Most Vessels 35-65 feet
 
 
One Pager: Industry supports protecting right whales, but current NMFS proposal is misguided
 
 
OpEd: NOAA Must Press Pause on its Vessel Speed Restrictions