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BoatU.S. Action Alert - Speak up for reasonable regulations to protect North Atlantic right whales
The National Marine Fisheries Service branch of NOAA has proposed a significant change in the regulations of all vessels 35 feet and larger for much of the Eastern Seaboard. With the goal of increasing protection of the North Atlantic right whale, these new rules were rolled out with little engagement of boaters and anglers. While we are supportive of reasonable, fact-based efforts to protect marine animals, BoatU.S. is concerned that these rules will have a significant impact on boating safety with little scientific justification or understanding of their effect on recreational boaters.

The proposed rules include:

  • Restrict vessel speed to less than 10 knots for boats 35 feet and larger. (Current rules restrict speeds for vessels 65 feet and larger.)
  • Significantly expand the slow speed zones from known whale calving areas, where most recorded accidental strikes occur, to most of the Eastern Seaboard from the shoreline up to 90 miles offshore in some areas. You can view a map of the proposed zones here.
  • Extend the restrictions up to seven months a year, including during important fishing and transit seasons for many recreational boaters.
  • Only provides limited exceptions for severe weather conditions or other emergencies.
  • Has no provision for non-emergency situations such as an offshore breakdown. Response towers will have to maintain speed restrictions, extending their response time.
  • Envisions new requirements to require the use of the Automatic Identification System (AIS) for enforcement purposes.

You can read the full proposed rules here.

Boaters and anglers have a direct interest in protecting the marine environment and are among the earliest conservationists and stewards of our natural resources. Unfortunately, these new rules have been rolled out with little consideration or understanding of how recreational boats operate in a safe manner. You can easily comment on these proposals using our prefilled form. Feel free to add your own views on what these proposed changes mean for your boating activities and safety.

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