When the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration ( NOAA ) rejected the petition to establish a mandatory, 10.5-knot speed limit in the Gulf of Mexico on Friday, October 27, 2023, the recreational community was incredibly victorious. According to leaders with The Billfish Foundation, the speed limit was proposed in an effort to lessen vehicle incidents with the recently discovered Rice’s shark species, among other vessel-related prevention measures.
The petition was rejected by the marine outdoor industry, which emphasized the dearth of proof linking recreational vessel collisions to Rice’s whales. The petition, which stated that” We are prioritizing other conservation actions for Rice’s whales: finalizing the species ‘ critical habitat, conducting additional vessel risk assessments, and creating a recovery plan,” was denied by NOAA.
From April through July of this year, the government could comment on the plea, and more than 70,000 people did so. When these limitations were initially requested, the pastime and boating community in particular was quite watchful, with thousands of official comments being sent to Congress. These offshore partners suggested that rather than enacting antiquated, unsubstantiated regulations, the answers to these conservation concerns of the twenty-first centuries been met with improved technology and 21st-century solutions.
Rice’s whales are currently listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act ( ESA ) and protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act, with fewer than 100 individuals remaining.
The NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional Office website at: https ://www.fisheries .noaa.gov/action/request-public-comments-petition-establish-vessel-speed-measures-protect-rice-whale is where you can find more details about the petition online.