Proposed NOAA 10-knot regulation puts RI coastal recreation at risk | Opinion

Capt. Brian Bacon is owner and operator of Big Game Sportfishing Charters in South Kingstown.

A recent ad in The Providence Journal focused on growing concern over whale mortalities along the Atlantic coast with a call on U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Administrator Janet Coit to quickly finalize NOAA’s proposed North Atlantic Right Whale Vessel Strike Reduction Rule.NOAA’s current vessel strike reduction rule establishes a 10-knot (roughly 11 mph) speed limit to boats 65 feet in length and greater in “seasonal speed zones” or small areas of the Atlantic Ocean where North Atlantic right whales migrate and feed.

Under its newly proposed rule, the 10-knot speed limit would apply to recreational boats between 35 and 65 feet in length, in addition to boats over 65 feet in length, and “seasonal speed zones” would expand to huge swaths of the Atlantic, from Massachusetts to central Florida, for up to eight months of the year and expand to 90 miles offshore in some places.

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