Attorney General Wilson Leads Opposition to Biden Administration’s Right Whale Fiasco

May 16, 2023


COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson and four other state attorneys general are opposing a proposed federal regulation that would cripple South Carolina’s boating and fishing industry along the coast and are threatening to go to court if it is implemented.

The regulation by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) would impose a 11.5 mile an hour speed limit on boats over 35 feet for six months of the year along the Atlantic seaboard in the prime fishing and boating season. The rationale is to protect the endangered North American Right Whale from accidental boat strikes.

The speed limit would extend to 60 miles out into the Atlantic on the eastern seaboard, including South Carolina.

“Federal overreach is the Biden Administration’s standard operating procedure. The latest NOAA proposal would crush South Carolina’s thriving boating and fishing industries, seriously damage our economy, and threaten the safety of boaters and anglers alike,” said Wilson. “The Biden Administration might not care about the consequences of its actions, but I do. You cannot thwart the law in an attempt to advance your agenda.”

The boating and fishing industry has a $5.1 billion impact on South Carolina and supports 23,000 jobs.

In a letter to NOAA Administrator Dr. Richard Spinrad, the attorneys general said that the action would invite “a probable legal challenge.”

Besides Wilson, the letter was signed by the attorneys general of Georgia (Christopher Carr), Alaska (Treg Taylor), Louisiana (Jeff Landry) and Tennessee (Jonathan Skrmetti).

The SCBFA has been working with Attorney General Wilson to develop a state strategy to file an amicus brief along with our organization and the harbor pilots to challenge this rule if it takes effect.

“We appreciate Attorney General Wilson’s leadership on this issue,” said SCBFA CEO Gettys Brannon. “Even the threat of this rule is beginning to devastate our industry and would not help endangered right whales because there’s not a single documented case of one ever being hit by a 35-65 foot boat off the South Carolina coast.

“Anglers and boaters are conservationists because we cherish our natural resources, and we’re willing to work with NOAA to find effective ways to protect them. But NOAA bureaucrats haven’t asked for our advice, so we’re prepared to go to court if we have to.”

Attorney General Wilson joins Senators Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott along with members of Congress Nancy Mace, Russell Fry, and Joe Wilson in publicly opposing the rule.


“Attorney General Wilson is fighting against federal overreach of its worst kind. The Biden Administration’s war on users of our waterways is a true threat to our industry and the outdoors way of life so many in South Carolina enjoy.” — SCBFA Chairman and Owner of Butler Marine Chris Butler

“The job opportunities in this industry are under threat with the misguided acts of NOAA and the Biden Administration regarding most environmental policies — the speed restriction is a prime example. Boating and fishing manufacturers understand the importance protecting endangered species and our environment as a whole. This move, though, is jeopardizing the established ‘Blue Economy’ for purely green gain.” — SCBFA Member and President of Sportsman Boats Tommy Hancock

“State attorneys general can serve as the last line of defense against federal policies that could harm recreational fishing and the jobs it supports. The attorney generals are uniquely positioned to hold the federal government accountable and ensure that boating and fishing interests are considered in federal policy decisions. We appreciate their support in ensuring a proper defense against the mishandling of environmental policy from the federal government” – Center for Sportfishing Policy President Jeff Angers

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