Despite Industry Protest, DEC Advances Vessel Strike Reduction Rule

The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) expressed disappointment with the decision by the Department of Commerce to advance the North Atlantic right whale (NARW) Vessel Strike Reduction Rule to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Proposed by NOAA, the rule would restrict small boats to 10 knots (roughly 11 mph) along much of the Eastern Seaboard for multiple months out of the year, which will significantly hurt U.S. coastal economies and the small businesses that make up the recreational boating industry.

This rule could put more than 810,000 American jobs and nearly $230 billion in economic contributions in jeopardy. More than 95% of boats sold in the United States are made in the United States, and approximately 93% of boat manufacturers are small business owners. Many coastal economies are built on recreational boating, fishing trips and the hospitality industry that require access to the ocean, and this rule could create ripple effects throughout these economies.

The movement of the draft rule to OMB represents the last step of the finalization of the rule.

In February, the recreational boating industry hosted NOAA Fisheries Assistant Administrator Janet Coit at the Discover Boating Miami International Boat Show to educate her and her colleagues on the technological advancements that exist to detect marine mammals and prevent boat strikes.

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In November, members of Congress and staff heard from representatives of the boating and fishing community about the devastating economic impacts the proposed rule will have.

NMMA president, Frank Hugelmeyer who testified last June at an oversight hearing held by the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources, Subcommittee on Water, Wildlife and Fisheries on the vessel speed restriction, said, “Marine mammal protection, economic prosperity and access to our cherished waters can coexist. It’s a false choice to make Americans choose one over the other. Innovative technologies, real-time tracking and monitoring tools offer a more viable solution to protect all whales while allowing for continued recreational marine-related economic contributions along the East Coast.” Click here to view his full testimony.

NMMA will continue to educate government officials on the potential economically damaging implications of the rule and will champion the marine technologies available to detect and protect against vessel strikes as an alternative to the regulation.