Local leaders and boaters gathered Friday at the Virginia Beach Billfish Tournament to hear the latest on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and how it may affect the marine economy.
NOAA’s proposed rule to limit whale strikes would expand on existing requirements by reducing the maximum speed limit for commercial and recreational boats of 35 feet or larger to 10 knots, or about 11.5 mph, in zones across the East Coast. Currently, speed reductions only affect boats 65 feet or larger.
Opponents of the measures say the rules will stifle the chartered fishing business. Maggie Whittemore, the manager and dock master of the Virginia Beach Fishing Center, said larger ships such as container carriers and military ships are excluded from the regulations even though they could also be causing harm to the right whale.
“These regulations will be detrimental to everyone who makes their livelihood on or near this water,” Whittemore said. “Our short season will be nearly cut in half. And it will be absolutely devastating to everybody involved.”