Congress hears arguments on vessel speed limit to protect whales

A rule proposal by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration could extend 10-knot speed limits in areas when right whales are present, and expand the limits to cover vessels between 35 and 65 feet in length. Aimed at protecting the whales, the proposal is seen as a mortal threat by some U.S. maritime groups, from recreational boat builders to charter fishing captains and port pilots.

Allowing NOAA to declare 10-knot speed zones would be “the greatest restriction to our nation’s cherished waterways” from Massachusetts to central Florida, said Fred Hugelmeyer, president and CEO of the National Marine Manufacturers Association. Hugelmeyer was one among a panelists of experts invited to the House of Representatives Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Wildlife and Fisheries. 

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