Washington, D.C. – The petitioners are asking NOAA to use their authority under the Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act to establish a “Vessel Slowdown Zone” from approximately Pensacola, Fla. to south of Tampa to protect the newly discovered Rice’s whale. On top of the mandatory 11 mph speed limit for all vessels transiting the proposed zone, the petition proposes the following additional restrictions:
No vessel transits at night; Vessels transiting through the zone must report their plans to NOAA, utilize trained visual observers, and maintain a separation distance of 500 m from Rice’s whales; Use and operate an Automatic Identification System, or notify NOAA of transits through the zone, and Report all non-compliance to NOAA within 24 hours.
There is zero evidence that a recreational vessel has ever struck a Rice’s whale.
“Once again, proponents of vessel speed restrictions are acting as if small recreational boats are the same as large cargo ships. They are not,” said Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Sportfishing Policy. “We invite NOAA to join with us in identifying 21st Century technological advances that can help tell mariners where whales are instead of effectively barring public access to America’s marine waters.”