NMMA seeks to reopen comments on Vessel Speed Rule | Boating Industry

NMMA seeks to reopen comments on Vessel Speed Rule | Boating Industry

On May 15, NMMA sent a letter to NOAA to request the agency reopen the docket for the proposed expansion of the 2008 North Atlantic Right Whale Vessel Strike Reduction Rule.  

During his meeting with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on May 16, NMMA President and CEO Frank Hugelmeyer, discussed the recreational boating industry’s opposition to the expansion of the rule, saying:

On behalf of the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) and the 36,000 businesses reliant upon open access to America’s public waters, I come before you today to request that NOAA withdraw the rule, and instead reopen the docket to conduct further analysis and additional public comment on this critical issue. 

In particular, we believe it is incumbent upon the agency, under the Administrative Procedure Act, to first consider technological advancements that can reduce whale strike risk without the proposed rule’s significant safety, operational, economic, and privacy consequences – consequences that have been recorded clearly in the public comment process.

Since the notice of proposed rulemaking was first issued on August 1, 2022, we have consistently highlighted how the proposed rule’s regulatory approach has not and cannot succeed in its primary goal of protecting the right whale.

Hugelmeyer continued: 

The massive negative socioeconomic ramifications of this rule have not been properly measured as we detailed in our 2022 comment. Further, additional information about the vibrant, year-round recreational boating and fishing communities found up and down the Atlantic Coast continues to be raised in this process, and the untold consequences are being tallied.

In fact, NMMA has discovered that many of these small businesses were unaware of the proposed rulemaking until after the close of the comment period and were unable to provide input on the impacts this rule would have on their businesses and communities.

As an example, one of several small business manufacturers that only makes recreational boats reports a total of 60 boats in current dealer inventory of 35 feet and above.

It’s important to note that the supplier impacts can go deeper down the line, such as power generation, A/C, water purification, textiles, etc. 

How will these boats sell if this rule is final as drafted?

Their value will plummet, and future orders will dramatically slow or worse, even cease, which will impact jobs, manufacturers, and suppliers in Wisconsin, Michigan, Maine, New Jersey, Indiana, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and other states.

And for boat owners of this sized craft in the proposed seasonal speed zones, a 10-knot speed restriction not only impacts safety and the boating experience, but also devalues their assets as a result of these restrictions.

Recreational boating is a year-round endeavor in other parts of the Atlantic Seaboard where coastal economies depend on the vibrancy of dealerships, marinas, bait and tackle shops, fishing charters, fishing tournaments, and other related tourism activities that continue well past November.

The write-down value of these-sized boats was never even a calculation in the agency’s Regulatory Impact Review.

We respectfully request the agency revisit its incomplete analysis and reassess its incorrect and inadequate findings that will impact manufacturing and its sales distribution channels.

Hugelmeyer further explained to the officials in the OMB meeting that the proposed rule is a threat to boater safety, and that technology exists today that can better protect boater safety and the North Atlantic right whale without decimating the small businesses and coastal economies that make up the $230 billion recreational boating industry. 

NMMA continues to call for the withdrawal of this rule. All those impacted by the NOAA rule are encouraged to write to their Member of Congress here: https://www.boatingunited.org/take-action/congress-protect-boaters-speed-restrictions/.

Source: https://boatingindustry.com/lead-news/2024/05/23/nmma-seeks-to-reopen-comments-on-vessel-speed-rule/

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