Speed restriction will ‘all but halt’ deep sea fishing
New legislation proposing a speed limit off the US east coast will ‘all but halt’ deep sea fishing in the region, claims the head of the body that represents the tackle trade.
Speaking to Fox News, Glenn Hughes, President of the American Sportfishing Association (ASA), spoke out against the legislation that will last seven months a year and restrict all vessels that measure 34ft or longer to ten knots (11.5 mph) off the Atlantic coast from Massachusetts to Northern Florida.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) has introduced the restriction to protect North Atlantic right whales from vessel strikes despite there being just five fatal incidents since 2008.
“There is a one in a million chance that a boater will have impact on the whales,” said Hughes. “This law will devastate fishing and marina communities along the east coast. Many anglers can simply say goodbye to deep sea fishing. Instead of taking an hour to get to a fishing destination, it will now take three or four – both ways.
“Nine million anglers fish along the east coast and they are not going to go – it will take too long. That means that they are not going to buy tackle, fuel, eat in restaurants or stay in hotels. That’s going to hurt the economy.”
The ASA says that it understands the importance role right whales play in coastal ecosystems and that they are a critically endangered species, however it questions whether this proposal is appropriate and based on the best available science.
Although the comment period on the proposed vessel speed legislation has closed, interested parties are encouraged to contact their members of Congress to request that more analysis be conducted to develop alternatives that address the concerns voiced by the sportfishing and boating industries.