Recreational boating, fishing stakeholders make case on Capitol Hill against new restrictions


The U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources, Subcommittee on Water, Wildlife and Fisheries on Tuesday, June 6, held an oversight hearing, “examining the impacts of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) proposed changes to the North Atlantic Right Whale Vessel Strike Reduction Rule,” welcoming stakeholders from the $230 billion recreational boating and fishing industry to testify on what impacts the restrictions would have on businesses, jobs and coastal recreation.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis, within the U.S. Department of Commerce, finds the recreational boating and fishing industry is the single largest contributor to the nation’s $862 billion outdoor recreation economy, according to the nonprofit Center for Sportfishing Policy.

According to a media release from the center, the proposed changes include a mandatory 10-knot (11 mph) speed restriction to include vessels 35 feet and larger (down from 65 feet); an expansion of the existing seasonal speed zones to span large swaths of the Atlantic Ocean, from Massachusetts to central Florida; and a 10-knot speed restriction up to 90 miles out from shore and, in some instances, for up to seven months of the year.

The rule expansion would put $84 billion in economic impact and 314,000 jobs from the recreational boating and fishing industry in Atlantic coastal states in jeopardy and neglects a balanced, technology- and data-driven approach to protect this endangered species, according to the center.