Capt. Bob Carey Raises Safety Concerns over NOAA Proposal

In a new opinion piece running in Virginia, Capt. Bob Carey, a retired emergency preparedness liaison officer with the U.S. Navy, outlines safety concerns with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) proposed expansion of the current North Atlantic Right Whale Vessel Strike Reduction Rule that would impact recreational boaters up and down the Atlantic Coast.

Driving the News: NOAA is considering implementing a mandatory 10-knot vessel speed restriction throughout the Atlantic Coast on all boats larger than 35 feet, including recreational, family-owned boats.

  • Recreational boating generates millions of dollars in economic activity across the East Coast, and supports thousands of businesses and jobs. But overly restrictive measures limiting boating access can put that all at risk.

Why It Matters: Many smaller recreational boats are not designed to operate at such low speeds, and doing so in rough weather can be dangerous.

  • In choppy waters and high winds, these smaller boats pose a greater risk of capsizing – a scenario that could seriously injure, and even threaten the lives of, those on board.

What He’s Saying: “When I served as an emergency preparedness liaison officer in the U.S. Navy, I worked closely with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and emergency and disaster response teams in multiple states,” said Capt. Carey. “I learned from experience that safety must always come first on the water. But traveling at NOAA’s proposed reduced speed in the open ocean could make smaller boats more likely to swamp or capsize, increasing the potential for life-threatening risks for the crew and passengers aboard and forcing the Coast Guard to dedicate scarce resources to rescue those onboard.”

The Big Picture: NOAA’s proposal vessel speed restriction fails to properly weigh the economic and boater safety impacts of the rule change. The agency should instead work with stakeholders to find a balanced solution that appropriately addresses these concerns.

  • “We can protect whales as well as families operating boats along the coast,” said Capt. Carey. “There’s a better way to approach this issue without this burdensome and dangerous government regulation on small boats.”

Go Deeper: Read more from Capt. Carey on how NOAA’s vessel speed restriction puts boaters’ safety at risk by clicking here.