ASA hits out on new ‘hugely negative’ speed restrictions
The American Sportfishing Association (ASA) has spoken out about the proposed restrictions on boating speeds along the Atlantic seaboard.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) has proposed expanding its North Atlantic Right Whale vessel strike reduction rule, but the ASA’s Atlantic Fisheries Policy Director, Mike Waine (pictured), addressed members of Congress about how the rule would severely restrict boating access.
Waine explained that the move would have a hugely negative impact on recreational fishing and would significantly harm coastal economies and livelihoods.
The presentation, part of a briefing organised by the bipartisan Congressional Boating Caucus, also argued that the proposal will not meaningfully improve protections for the North Atlantic Right whale but would put boater safety at risk.
Frank Hugelmeyer, President of the National Marine Manufacturers Association, also spoke to the Caucus, saying the proposal would create one of the largest restrictions of Americans’ access to public waterways.
“We will continue to work with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to find ways to protect the Right whale that do not come at the expense of small businesses and American livelihoods,” he added.
Buddy Carter, the Republican representative for Georgia, described the move as “unworkable and dangerous.”
The Caucus heard that the NOAA proposal provides no distinction between a 35-foot boat with a three foot draft and an ocean-going vessel with a 45-foot draft. And studies show that most fatal whale strikes come from boats over 260 feet long.
There has been one documented US incident since 2008 of a recreational boat under 65 feet – outside of existing speed zones – striking a North Atlantic right whale and causing death.
There are more than 60,000 boats between 35 and 65 feet that took more than five million trips on the Atlantic in the last 15 years, meaning that the chance of a small boat striking a North Atlantic Right whale is incredibly low.
- There has been some confusion between the similarly named Rice’s whale in the Gulf of Mexico and the Right whale in the Atlantic. Recently, NOAA Fisheries rejected a petition to establish a year-round 10-knot (11 mph) vessel speed limit in the Rice’s whale “core” habitat in the Gulf of Mexico. This is a separate issue from the proposed right whale vessel speed restrictions in the Atlantic. A decision on that proposal should be available before the end of the year