October 27, 2022
By: Matthew Goins
South Carolina Senators Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott joined their colleagues from North Carolina and Florida in a joint letter to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Administrator Richard Spinrad in opposition to the proposed North Atlantic Right Whale (NARW) Vessel Strike Reduction Rule.
In July, NOAA proposed a rule change to seasonal speed restrictions, which is roughly 12 mph or less. Currently, the rule only applies to vessels that are 65 feet or longer. However, the new proposal would expand the regulation to all vessels at least 35 feet in length.
“Such a costly, sweeping proposal is excessive, and NOAA must find a better way to achieve its conservation goal,” Graham, Scott, and the other senators wrote in the letter.
The economic risk of the regulation is a crucial concern for the senators whose state economy relies heavily on coastal commerce.
According to the letter, offshore recreational fishing trips that would be affected by the regulation produce an estimated $15 million per year. The proposed regulation would drastically shorten the trips or cancel them all together, leaving a heavy economic loss.
“This proposal would cause significant harm to the charter and recreational boaters and fishermen, marinas, boat builders, and related industries that are the economic backbone of many of our states’ coastal communities,” the senators added.
With NOAA on the verge of enacting the regulation, SCBFA and other organizations across the country are urging the boating and fishing community to submit public comments.
“NOAA needs to hear from everyone impacted by this proposal,” said Clay Crabtree Director of Federal Government Relations for the National Marine Manufacturers Association. “It is critical NOAA incorporate key stakeholder feedback and data since the proposed rule severely underestimates the impacts to the recreational fishing and boating industry. We appreciate the leadership of Senator Graham, Senator Scott, and their colleagues in bringing this to light.”
Comments can be submitted through the industry’s grassroots platform, Boating United. The deadline to submit public comments is Monday, October 31, at 11:59 p.m. ET.
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