If your boat is 35 feet or more in length, the U.S. Department of Commerce wants to make you slow down!
That’s the word from NOAA Fisheries – a part of the Commerce Department – which is officially proposing changes to the North Atlantic right whale vessel speed rule to further reduce the likelihood of lethal vessel collisions. The changes would broaden the spatial boundaries and timing of seasonal speed restriction areas along the U.S. East Coast while expanding mandatory speed restrictions of 10 knots or less to include most vessels from 35 to 65 feet in length.
“Collisions with vessels continue to impede North Atlantic right whale recovery,” said Janet Coit, Assistant Administrator for NOAA Fisheries. “This proposed action is necessary to stabilize the ongoing right whale population decline, in combination with other efforts to address right whale entanglement and vessel strikes in the U.S. and Canada,” Coit added.
“We have made progress in addressing the threat of vessel strikes, but additional action is warranted to further reduce the risk of lethal strike events to ensure the species can get back on track to recovery,” said Kim Damon-Randall, Director, Office of Protected Resources, NOAA Fisheries.
Given the significant implications of this proposal on many offshore fishing vessels, the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) and their partners in the recreational fishing and boating community will be engaging in the development of this rule to minimize negative impacts to the sportfishing community. Comments on the proposal are due by September 30, 2022. Go to www.fisheries.noaa.gov/feature-story/rule-amend-north-atlantic-right-whale-vessel-speed-regulations-open-comment for more information and official comment.