NMMA - National Marine Manufacturers Association Inc.

06/13/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 06/12/2024 23:16

Members of Congress Continue to Call Out NOAA’s Flawed Vessel Speed Rule During House Science, Space and Technology Committee Hearing

Last week, during the Environment Subcommittee Hearing of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, "An Overview of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Budget Proposal for Fiscal Year 2025," members of Congress questioned NOAA Administrator Dr. Richard Spinrad on the agency's proposed expansion of the 2008 North Atlantic Right Whale Vessel Strike Reduction rule. The members pressed Dr. Spinrad on whether NOAA included industry input in the drafting of the rule, how the rule would be enforced, and how NOAA plans to protect right whales without hurting coastal economies.
Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL)asked Dr. Spinrad about failing to meet with marine industry representatives ahead of drafting the rule, including the recreational boating industry, saying:
"Why did NOAA meet with several outside groups such as the Center for Biological Diversity, but not the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), prior to the proposed rule being published?"
NMMA and its industry partners were not consulted during the drafting of the rule. If NOAA had consulted the recreational boating industry, NOAA officials would have found that the industry cares deeply about protecting all marine wildlife and especially the North Atlantic right whale. Advanced marine technologies exist today that can better protect the North Atlantic right whale than an economically disastrous vessel speed rule.
Rep. Posey pressed Dr. Spinrad as to when he would receive a response from NOAA regarding the letter he sent in April that discusses the detrimental impacts the vessel speed rule would have on his constituents. Dr. Spinrad was not able to provide an accurate timeline, and Rep. Posey concluded it could take months or even years to receive a response from the agency.
Rep. Mike Collins (R-GA)continued Rep. Posey's line of questioning, "You know, you and I have had private conversations about the right whale issue and the $80 billion industry that you're going to affect the 63,000 vessels that are out there that you're going to affect with this 10-knot rule that you have proposed. And I guess my question is pretty simple. So, you implement this thing? How do you plan on enforcing it?"
Dr. Spinrad stated that it would be a mix of law enforcement officers, technology, and partnerships with federal and state agencies, but did not offer any specifics.
Rep. Gabe Amo (D-RI)asked Dr. Spinrad how NOAA plans to protect right whales while ensuring coastal economies and local businesses are not negatively affected. As NOAA and Rhode Island have partnered to open a new marine operations center in Newport, RI, Rep. Amo wanted to ensure his constituents will maintain their livelihoods if the vessel speed rule is finalized.
NMMA applauds the committee members who vocalized their constituents' concern. The recreational boating industry will continue to call on the Administration to withdraw the vessel speed rule and listen to the boaters and mariners whose safety and livelihoods will be put at risk if a blanket speed restriction is enacted.