NOAA’s Plan to Slow Boats Ignites Whale of a Fight

Capt. Fred Gamboa has led fishing trips off the New Jersey coast for the last 17 years, but he fears he will soon lose many customers if required to slow down his boats to meet new federal requirements to protect one of the most endangered whales in the ocean.

Gamboa, a charter boat operator from Point Pleasant, N.J., charges $4,800 to take people on an 18-hour tuna fishing trip 100 miles from shore. Under a new rule proposed by NOAA Fisheries, he’d have to travel at a top speed of roughly 11 ½ mph for part of the year, as opposed to his normal cruising speed of 30 to 40 mph.

“It would take nine to 10 hours to get out there — no customer would ever pay for that trip,” he said.

Gamboa, 56, and thousands of other boaters along the Atlantic coast are lobbying Congress to block NOAA’s plan. But NOAA officials say that forcing boats to slow down during certain times of the year is a matter of survival for the North Atlantic right whale, which are particularly vulnerable to collisions.

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