Biden Boat Speed Limit: A Closer Look

Biden Boat Speed Limit: A federal proposal for boat speed limit reductions on the horizon has sparked controversy, and the Biden administration’s recent denial of an immediate implementation request adds fuel to the fire.

Here we delve into the details of Biden Boat Speed Limit contentious issue.

Biden Boat Speed Limit – The Proposed Rule Change

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has proposed a significant rule change to safeguard the critically endangered North Atlantic right whales. The suggestion involves decreasing the speed limit to 10 knots for recreational and commercial vessels that are 35 feet or longer, a considerable drop from the current 65 feet criterion.

Moreover, the proposal seeks to extend the reduced speed zones almost along the east coast and up to a 90-mile radius, potentially lasting up to seven months of the year.

The Call for Immediate Action: Ignored or Postponed?

In December, a consortium of conservation groups, led by the national environmental advocacy group Oceana, petitioned for an emergency rulemaking that would see the proposed 10-knot rule immediately enforced. However, through the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), the Biden administration rejected this emergency petition earlier this week.

The denial, however, doesn’t imply the proposal’s demise. Instead, NMFS officials have cited limited resources as a barrier to implementing emergency regulations while the broader rule change is still under consideration.

Current StatusPotential Impact
No immediate rule changeContinued threat to North Atlantic right whales
Possible future implementationPotential slowdown of recreational and commercial vessels

The Right Whales: A Species in Danger

The North Atlantic right whales begin their calving season from mid-November until mid-April, migrating through the mid-Atlantic area to their calving grounds located from North Carolina to Florida. However, vessel strikes pose a significant threat, especially to pregnant females and nursing calves that spend substantial time near the water’s surface.

With an estimated population of merely 340, including approximately 70 reproductive females, the right whales’ existence hangs in the balance. A lack of immediate action could further endanger this critically endangered species.

The Opposition: Government and Environmental Groups

Both Oceana and the Center for Biological Diversity have criticized the Biden administration for their inaction on the emergency petition. They argue that the government’s refusal to implement the speed limit immediately continues to put the right whales at risk, especially outside of existing protected areas.

However, the government insists they are working with vessel operators to enforce voluntary slowdowns during the calving season. The question remains whether this approach will protect this endangered species.

The Local Impact: Fishing Industry in Jeopardy

The proposed rule change could have substantial implications for the local fishing industry. While the rule would primarily affect the period from November 1 to May 31, NOAA could apply the 10-knot rule anytime a right whale is spotted in the fishing grounds off the coast.

Local fishing communities and advocacy groups have expressed their concerns, arguing that the proposed rule change could significantly disrupt their operations. Yet, the data suggests that vessel strikes may not be a major factor in the species’ mortality rates.

People Also Ask on – biden boat speed limit

What is the proposed rule change from the NOAA regarding boat speed limits?

The NOAA has proposed reducing the speed limit for recreational and commercial vessels that are 35 feet or longer. The suggested speed limit is 10 knots, down from the current length limit of 65 feet. This rule also plans to expand the low-speed zones to include almost the entire east coast up to a 90-mile radius and extend for up to seven months per year.

Why has the Biden administration denied immediate implementation of this rule?

The Biden administration, via the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), denied the emergency petition to implement the rule immediately. NMFS officials have stated that they need more resources to effectively impose emergency regulations while the decision on the more long-term rule change is still under consideration.

What is the current status of the North Atlantic right whales?

The North Atlantic right whales are critically endangered. Approximately 340 of these whales are left, with only about 70 reproductive females. The whales are particularly vulnerable to vessel strikes during their calving season, which runs from mid-November until mid-April.

How have environmental groups received the proposed rule change?

Environmental groups such as Oceana and the Center for Biological Diversity have criticized the Biden administration for not taking immediate action to implement the rule. They argue that this delay leaves the right whales at increased risk, particularly outside the current protected areas.

How would the proposed rule change impact the local fishing industry?

The local fishing industry could face significant challenges if the rule is implemented. The 10-knot rule could be applied whenever a right whale is spotted in the fishing grounds off the coast, potentially disrupting fishing activities. Operating at a maximum of 10 knots could add several hours to a typical charter or private fishing trip, particularly for those targeting offshore species.

How common are lethal right whale vessel strikes?

According to NOAA’s data, there have been 12 lethal right whale vessel strikes since 2008, five involving vessels under 35 feet. Given the volume of boat traffic in the prescribed zones for the rule change, the chance of a vessel striking a right whale is around one in a million.


As we await NOAA’s final decision on the proposed rule change, the controversy surrounding the issue continues to grow. Balancing the capacity of protection of the endangered North Atlantic right whales with the interests of local fishing communities will undoubtedly be challenging for the Biden administration. The ultimate outcome remains to be seen, but the effects of this decision will certainly be far-reaching.

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