Four members of the US House of Representatives have asked the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries division to suspend further action on proposed changes to the North Atlantic right whale vessel speed rule that would extend the 10kt speed limit along the Eastern seaboard to vessels 35ft and larger.
The recreational marine and sport fishing industry say the proposed rule would devastate their businesses and the economies of coastal communities.
In a letter to NOAA Fisheries Assistant Administrator Janet Coit, Democrat Rep Mary Sattler of the state of Alaska – a member of the House Natural Resources Committee who was very outspoken during an oversight hearing in June about the impact to her state’s recreational and commercial fishing interests – wrote:
“…NOAA Fisheries can and should set aside the flawed proposed rule and instead carry out the full and vigorous exploration of technological solutions that can achieve the conservation goals while still allowing reasonable access to public resources. Working collaboratively with subject matter experts who specialize in whale monitoring and detection, as well as communications systems that can get information to vessel operators where and when they need it most must remain the top priority for NOAA Fisheries. Not all of us represent Districts sitting on the East Coast, but we share concerns regarding the economic ripple effects of these restrictions and the implications for how NOAA Fisheries would conduct marine mammal protection management elsewhere in the United States.”