The administration wants to restrict speed to 10 knots (11.5 miles per hour) for all boats over 35 feet for up to seven months out of the year and up to 100 miles out at sea for much of the East Coast. The claimed purpose is to protect the endangered right whale from being hit by boats.
Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Sportfishing Policy (CSP), says the policy is not safe for boaters.
"Most boats that would go offshore are constructed with a deep V so that they can take the waves," he explains. "But they can only take the waves when they're going at ideal speeds, and 10 knots is not just not an ideal speed – it is in many cases unsafe to operate a boat at 10 knots when you're in some of the weather conditions that we see while we're offshore."
Angers says no one from the Biden administration consulted him or – to his knowledge – any other group in the industry before making this decision. And he asserts that CSP and other organizations like it care deeply about healthy oceans and take conservation seriously.
"We are the stewards of America's public natural resources, and that is why we were so surprised when NOAA published this massive rule making what could amount to the greatest regulatory overreach ever without ever even asking us," he tells AFN. "We are the most affected stakeholders, and no one from the federal government even asked what we thought about this or how we could help protect right whales in a way that was less intrusive in the public's right to be in public places."
Ben Lieberman, senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), says this is all pain and very little gain for the endangered right whale.
"There's only about 350 of them left. They migrate up and down the Atlantic Coast, but these … proposed restrictions on boating really are not necessary. Boating and the whales have co-existed, and there are very, very few instances of harm to the whales," he asserts.
So this, he says, is an example of the Biden administration being overly cautious for the sake of the whales and not thinking about the livelihoods that are at stake.
Angers notes that his organization is not in the lawsuit business, but Lieberman would not rule out other industry groups going to court over this boating proposal.