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Industry Pushes Back Against Speed Restrictions

1_RIGHWHALES

Several marine industry, sportfishing and conservation organizations are pushing back against proposed restrictions by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries that would limit boats 35 feet and larger from traveling at speeds greater than 10 knots along the East Coast from Massachusetts to Florida.

The restrictions would, according to an action statement from industry political action committee BoatPAC:

• broaden current 10-knot speed restrictions to include vessels 35 feet and larger (down from 65 feet)

• expand existing slow zones to nearly the entire Atlantic Coast

• extend the zones as far as 90 miles offshore

• extend zone restrictions between Nov. 1 and May 31, coinciding with the boating and fishing season

According to a statement from Viking Yacht Co., the proposal was published Aug. 1, and a letter from a coalition of recreational fishing and boating organizations was presented to NOAA, which extended the public comment period to Oct. 31.

“The proposed rule, as written, would be the most consequential maritime regulation that we have ever seen imposed on the recreational boating and fishing sector,” John DePersenaire, Viking director of government affairs and sustainability, said in the statement. “It will affect not only boat owners but marinas, tackle shops, charter boat operators — basically all maritime-related businesses on the Atlantic Coast.”

According to a letter submitted to NOAA Fisheries by a dozen marine industry, sportfishing and conservation organizations, there have been “only six documented occurrences” of strikes with boats smaller than 65 feet in the United States since 2005.

Comments about the proposal can be posted at the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Additional commentary can be posted at NMMA’s Boating United Group, and through the International Game Fish Association.

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