Last week, local leaders joined boaters and anglers at the Virginia Beach Billfish Tournament to discuss concerns regarding the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s proposed expansion of its North Atlantic Right Whale Vessel Strike Reduction Rule.
The proposed expansion would implement a 10 knot (11 mph) speed limit on boats 35 feet and greater across a vast area of the Atlantic coast. Under the proposed expansion, the speed limit would extend from Massachusetts to central Florida for 7 months out of the year. The proposed rule poses significant safety and economic concerns to America’s recreational boating and fishing community.
U.S. Congressman Rob Wittman (R-VA-01) spoke at the event and recounted his experience working on a charter boat out of North Carolina.
“I got to learn through the years how passionate sportfishing is to a lot of people across the spectrum. I think the most important part of it is how incredibly impactful it is to our economy,” said Congressman Wittman. “If you look on the East Coast, there are 70,000 fishing trips that are put forward by anglers every year. The economic impact of those trips is $230 billion.”
U.S. Congresswoman Jen Kiggins (R-VA-02) echoed Congressman Wittman’s remarks and highlighted a bipartisan bill she is cosponsoring that would delay NOAA from moving forward with the rule expansion until technological solutions are explored.
“I firmly believe we can support the conservation of right whales while maintaining our vibrant coastal economy,” said Congresswoman Kiggins. “I have serious concerns that what NOAA wants to do is a short sighted, non-data driven approach and it’s going to devastate the boating and fishing communities in Virginia’s second district, as well as risk 340,000 American jobs and nearly $84 billion in economic activity along the Atlantic Coast.”
The briefing event was covered in a recent article in The Virginian-Pilot, which detailed the negative impacts the proposed rule expansion would have on coastal economies.
For more information, visit coastalrecreation.org.