N Atlantic Right Whale (NOAA)

GA - Georgia Attorney General Carr opposes NOAA whale boat speed rule

While local conservation nonprofits have urged NOAA to pass the policy, opposition has concerns for mariners and economy

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr joined a coalition of five state attorneys general opposing the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's proposed rule to create stricter boat speed regulations to reduce collisions with the highly endangered North Atlantic right whale.

Carr joined the AGs of Alaska, Louisiana, South Carolina and Tennessee in sending a letter to NOAA's leadership expressing concerns regarding the proposed vessel speed regulations.

What is NOAA proposing? Doing right by whales: Groups urge NOAA to enforce boat speed rules off Georgia Coast

Local efforts: Partnership launches acoustic monitoring buoy for whale conservation off the coast of Savannah

Why target speeding boats?

NOAA's boat speeding rules aren't anything new. Since 2008 the agency has enforced seasonal speed rules across the East Coast meant to prevent deadly collisions between boats and whales. Right now, when the whales are in a region NOAA enforces a 10 knots or less speed limit for vessels 65 feet or over. The newly proposed rule drops that vessel size to 35 feet or larger while also expanding the zones and timing of seasonal speed restrictions.

Since 1999, NOAA said six North Atlantic right whales have been found dead or sighted off the coast with serious injuries in Georgia. The whales are particularly vulnerable to boat strikes along the coast of the Southeast where mothers and calves swim at or below the water's surface since calves cannot yet dive very deep.

2023 whale deaths on the East Coast: Whale deaths off New Jersey, across East Coast are causing alarm. Here's a detailed look

Fishing community opposition: Saving endangered right whales pits advocates against lobstermen

But opposition to the new regulations argues the new rules stand to risk coastal economies and fishing industries. In the letter Carr co-signed with fellow attorneys general, they noted that the rule could disrupt "important sectors of our state economies, including commercial shipping and recreational fishing and boating."

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