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NMMA: Proposed Speed Rule an ‘Existential Threat’ to Industry

1_WHALESACTION

The National Marine Manufacturers Association is calling on every marine brand, employee and boat owner to submit a public comment opposing a proposed federal rule that would require boats 35 feet and over to slow to 10 knots or less for months at a time along much of the East Coast.

“Every member of the industry needs to submit a comment to oppose this rule through our web portal,” says Frank Hugelmeyer, president and CEO of the NMMA. “The industry will be truly decimated if this goes into effect. A 10-knot speed limit for almost all of the coast for most of the year — nobody will keep their boats.”

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced the proposed rule on Aug. 1 by publishing it in the Federal Register. NOAA Fisheries says the rule is needed for boats as small as 35 feet length overall to protect endangered North Atlantic right whales from possible vessel strikes.

Following initial outcry about the proposed rule, NOAA Fisheries extended the public comment deadline by one month, to Oct. 31.

“Every employee in the entire industry needs to respond to this to protect their jobs and protect their industry,” says Frank Hugelmeyer, president and CEO of the NMMA. “We’re working behind the scenes with the White House, with the Commerce Department, with NOAA and with our entire congressional delegation. We will do whatever we have to do to prevent this from going into place, including legal action.”

Hugelmeyer, along with representatives of BoatUS, the American Sportfishing Association and the Center for Sportfishing Policy, met with NOAA Fisheries on September 23. They presented industry data and urged the administration to suspend its plans, which Hugelmeyer says are based on numerous inaccurate assumptions. For instance, he says, NOAA Fisheries projects that only 9,200 recreational boats will be affected when there are more than 63,000 registered recreational saltwater fishing boats between 35 and 65 feet in the proposed zones.

“We already know of $8 million worth of sales that have been lost because of the threat of the rule,” he says. “The clients are waiting to buy the boats until they see what happens with this.”

Comments about the proposed rule may be submitted here until Oct. 31.

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