The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is considering boating speed restrictions in the eastern Gulf of Mexico that would effectively shut down a massive area of the ocean to all boating.
Petitioners have requested that NOAA create a “Vessel Slowdown Zone” with a mandatory 11 mph speed limit for all vessels.
The petition is intended to help protect the Rice’s whale, however, there has never been a documented case of a recreational vessel striking a Rice’s whale. The petition also proposes the following additional restrictions on boaters:
- No vessel transits at night;
- Vessels transiting through the zone must report their plans to NOAA, utilize trained visual observers and maintain a separation distance of 500 m from Rice’s whales;
- Use and operate an Automatic Identification System, or notify NOAA of transits through the zone, and
- Report all non-compliance to NOAA within 24 hours.
Tell NOAA to reject this ill-advised petition and work with the recreational fishing and boating community to come up with a realistic plan to protect the Rice’s whale.
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