Case On Capitol Hill Against Dangerous Vessel Speed Restrictions - The Fisherman

Case On Capitol Hill Against Dangerous Vessel Speed Restrictions

The U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources, Subcommittee on Water, Wildlife and Fisheries today held an oversight hearing, “Examining the impacts of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) proposed changes to the North Atlantic Right Whale Vessel Strike Reduction Rule,” welcoming impacted stakeholders from the $230 billion recreational boating and fishing industry to testify on the devastating impacts NOAA’s proposed vessel speed restrictions would have on businesses, jobs, and coastal recreation across Atlantic seaboard.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis, within the U.S. Department of Commerce, finds the recreational boating and fishing industry is the single largest contributor to the nation’s $862 billion outdoor recreation economy. Despite this, NOAA is proposing sweeping changes to its existing vessel speed rule that will have drastic economic consequences and safety implications for the boating and fishing community, including:

  • A mandatory 10-knot (11 mph) speed restriction to include vessels 35 feet and larger (down from 65 feet).
  • An expansion of the existing Seasonal Speed Zones (SSZ) to span huge swaths of the Atlantic Ocean, from Massachusetts to central Florida.
  • A 10-knot speed restriction up to 90 miles out from shore and in some instances, for up to 7 months of the year.

NOAA’s proposed expansion is a flawed rule that poses drastic economic consequences and boater safety concerns without offering a viable, long-term solution to protect the North Atlantic right whale. Instead, the rule expansion would put $84 billion in economic impact and 314,000 jobs from the recreational boating and fishing industry in Atlantic coastal states in jeopardy, and neglects a balanced, technology- and data-driven approach to protect this endangered species.

Today’s hearing shined light on the many glaring inaccuracies and false assumptions NOAA made when putting forth its proposed rule changes. The recreational marine industry is calling for NOAA and Congress to work with the industry to identify a balanced, data-driven and innovative approach to protecting both the North Atlantic right whale and coastal communities, while maintaining public access to our nation’s shared waterways.

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