Congressmen Dr. Greg Murphy, (R-NC), David Rouzer (R-NC), and Rob Wittman (R-VA) have sent a letter to the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration urging them to withdraw a proposed amendment which would expand compliance of the mandatory 10-knot speed restrictions in Seasonal Management Areas.
The proposal would impact 15,899 vessels throughout the Eastern Seaboard, resulting in 121,061 additional transit hours annually at an added cost of $49,216,122 per year.
“As members of the East Coast delegation, we write to express concerns with Docket Number, NOAA-NMFS-2022-0022, Amendments to the North Atlantic Right Whale Vessel Strike Reduction Rule.
“The proposed rule would have profound impacts on the livelihoods of our constituents…After reviewing NOAA’s proposal, in its own analysis of the rule, they concede that ‘…it is not possible to establish a direct causal link between speed reduction efforts and the relative decline in observed right whale serious injury and mortality events following the implementation of the speed rule…’.
“The agency cannot quantify the economic benefit for implementing the rule, but admits there are clear costs that will be imposed upon commercial and recreational fishing vessels, container ships, dredging vessels, ferries, towing vessels and many others.
“Furthermore, NOAA proposes additional cooperation from the U.S. Coast Guard and State law enforcement agencies to enforce with this proposed rule, taking away law enforcement efforts away from national security interests off our coast.
“While we can appreciate your efforts to safeguard this species, which we all want to protect, these actions will financially devastate our constituents and potentially place them in a dangerous situation out at sea.
“We respectfully request you withdraw the proposed amendments.”