Bipartisan Group Of Lawmakers Express Concerns Over Proposed NOAA Regulations

Last week, a bipartisan group of lawmakers from the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus held a briefing on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) proposed expansion of its North Atlantic Right Whale Vessel Strike Reduction Rule. Under the proposed expansion, all boats 35 feet and greater cannot travel faster than 10 knots (11 mph) within a vast area extending from Massachusetts to central Florida, for up to 7 months out of the year and in some places up to 90 miles offshore.

Several legislators expressed concern with how NOAA’s proposal could impact local economies, particularly in coastal communities. The  U.S. recreational boating industry has an annual economic impact of $230 billion, supporting more than 36,000 businesses, most of which are small businesses, and over 812,000 American jobs. NOAA’s proposed regulation would significantly impact the recreational boating and fishing community and threaten the small businesses and coastal economies it supports.

Representatives Buddy Carter (R-GA-01) and Mary Peltola (D-AK) recently introduced bipartisan legislation that would halt the proposed rule expansion and require NOAA to implement real-time monitoring systems that would help boaters locate and keep a safe distance from North Atlantic right whales while on the water.

“Yes, we want to protect the right whales, but we want to do it the right way,” said Representative Carter.

The briefing made clear there is growing bipartisan opposition to NOAA’s proposed rule and that Congress is committed to engaging with the recreational boating and fishing industry to find a workable solution that both protects the North Atlantic right whale while also supporting local economies across the Atlantic seaboard.

For more information, visit coastalrecreation.org or reach out to Clay Crabtree, director of federal government relations, at ccrabtree@nmma.org.