NOAA slams bill against boat speed rule to protect whales

By Rob Hotakainen | 06/28/2024 06:26 AM EDT

A House panel considered legislation pushing an alternative plan to protect dwindling right whale populations.

Rep. Buddy Carter (R-Ga.).

A bill from Rep. Buddy Carter (R-Ga.) would block a NOAA plan on boat speeds and deploy grants to "foster enhanced coexistence between ocean users" and whales. Francis Chung/POLITICO

Republicans on a House Natural Resources panel moved Thursday to block NOAA’s plan to protect endangered North Atlantic right whales by imposing speed limits on more boaters along the Atlantic coast.

Testifying before the Water, Wildlife and Fisheries Subcommittee, Rep. Buddy Carter (R-Ga.) said requiring vessels of 35 feet or larger to travel at a speed of 11.5 mph would be both dangerous and a blow to the economy.

“Unfortunately, if this rule goes into effect, boaters who use 35-foot or larger vessels will simply not take fishing trips, and the market will die for these kinds of vessels,” Carter said.


Under a bill sponsored by Carter and Rep. Mary Peltola (D-Alaska), H.R. 8704, NOAA would not be allowed to make any changes until Dec. 31, 2030. It would also create a new federal grant program “to foster enhanced coexistence between ocean users” and the endangered whales.