The U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources, Subcommittee on Water, Wildlife and Fisheries will hold an oversight budget hearing titled “Examining the impacts of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) proposed changes to the North Atlantic Right Whale Vessel Strike Reduction Rule” on Tuesday, June 6, 2023, at 10:15 a.m.
Recreational fishing and boating contributes $230 billion to the U.S. economy, supporting over 36,000 American businesses and 812,000 jobs annually. Members of the House Natural Resources Committee are investigating the true impacts of NOAA’s proposed rule to the economy and Americans’ way of life – from recreation to maritime supply chain and port operations.
NOAA’s proposed expansion to its North Atlantic Right Whale Vessel Strike Reduction Rule would broaden the current 10-knot (11 mph) speed restriction to include all vessels 35 feet and larger (down from 65 feet); expand the go-slow zones from discrete calving areas to essentially the whole Atlantic Coast out as far as 90 miles, and extend these zone restrictions as long as seven months a year. While this proposed rule was in development for more than a year, NOAA’s Office of Protected Resources did not conduct any formal engagement with affected stakeholders resulting in a flawed rule that poses boater safety concerns and would have devastating economic impacts on coastal communities, businesses and jobs.
According to an analysis by Southwick Associates, NOAA’s proposed rule changes threaten to eliminate up to 70,000 recreational fishing trips along the Atlantic seaboard, jeopardizing the $230 billion in national economic contributions from the recreational fishing and boating industry, which supports 800,000 U.S. jobs and 36,000 businesses. In Atlantic coastal states alone 340,000 American jobs and nearly $84 billion in crucial economic activity will be in jeopardy.
Recreational fishing and boating stakeholders have been calling on NOAA to work with the recreational fishing and boating community on more scientifically justifiable management solutions that are less severe and more effective options to protect North Atlantic right whales. More exploration of technology that can deliver real-time monitoring of individual whales is needed. Developing ways to distribute this information to vessel operators will only occur through direct engagement with the industry and fishing and boating organizations.
The hearing will be live-streamed at the following link: https://naturalresources.house.gov/calendar/eventsingle.aspx?EventID=413367
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