Representatives Bill Posey and Mike Collins Raise Concerns with Vessel Speed Restrictions in House Hearing
Date Posted: May 15, 2023

Last week, Representatives Bill Posey (R-FL) and Mike Collins (R-GA) voiced concerns in a U.S. House of Representatives hearing over the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)'s proposed vessel speed restrictions along the Atlantic Coast. This came on the heels of the American Boating Congress (ABC) in Washington, D.C., where the proposed expansion of NOAA's vessel speed restriction, and the impacts on the $230 billion recreational boating industry, were a main focus.

Both members' districts are positioned directly on or near the Atlantic Coast where NOAA's proposed rule would limit all boats 35 ft. and up from traveling faster than 10 knots (11 mph) from Massachusetts to central Florida, for up to 7 months out of the year, in some places up to 90 miles offshore.

Representatives Posey and Collins, in a House Science, Space, and Technology subcommittee hearing, directed questions and concerns to NOAA Administrator Richard Spinrad over NOAA's lack of stakeholder engagement in its North Atlantic Right Whale Vessel Strike Reduction Rule.

Representative Posey's line of questioning may be viewed here.

Recreational boating and fishing stakeholders are encouraged to make their voices heard on Capitol Hill, in district offices, and at the local level by contacting lawmakers and staff to discuss the impacts of NOAA's proposed rule, as well as taking action on the Boating United platform.

To coordinate a letter to district offices and offices on Capitol Hill, or to arrange a meeting with your members of Congress, either in-person or virtually, please contact Clay Crabtree, director of federal government relations at [email protected].

Comment Submitted by brian richard mcmahon - May 18, 2023

Thank you Editor for the detailed response. I did find specific statistics after a little searching on the NOAA site (2017–2023 North Atlantic Right Whale Unusual Mortality Event). Two things seem clear: 1. regulations and efforts to reduce mortalities since 2017 are working, particularly in regard to vessel strikes, 2. entanglement continues to be the major cause of serious injury, not vessel strikes. Seems like we should focus on fishing gear modifications. Also, note that fishing line makes up a large proportion of the plastics polluting the oceans today. Maybe greater efforts in that area could solve two problems at the same time. Thank you also for the response on the dangerous high speed behavior. Sounds like, short of regulating speed in certain areas on the ICWW, we need to fend for and police for ourselves. Having been thrown around as you have, I am not at all happy with the status quo.

Comment Submitted by brian richard mcmahon - May 17, 2023

Where could I look to find the data NOAA is using to propose the speed limit of 10 knots? Would be interesting to see for myself what the issues are before commenting to the legislators. Concerning speed restrictions...there are places on the ICWW that are very dangerous to other boaters due to large boats traveling at high speeds with no regard for their wake. What is being done about that?

Editor's Note: For the NOAA proposed restrictions, go to and search the details there. Regarding the behavior of vessel operators on the ICW, or anywhere for that matter, if speed limits or No Wake zones are not in effect, then it's up to the vessel operators to recognize their actions. And, as many of us know, there are some who simply do not care about others. I've been rolled and tossed about many times by either ignorant or outright uncaring skippers. The only recourse is that all vessel operators are responsible for damages caused by their wakes. Making that stick is difficult. I usually write down the name of the offending boat and keep a record. Sometimes the large sportfisher boats that are usually the culprits are not skippered by the owner. If you get the vessel name, you can report it to the USCG for dangerous operation, and then follow up with the owner if you can run him down. If he was the one at the helm, explain his discourteous actions in a kind way. He may be clueless. If he's a jerk, just write it off to "there will always be those kind of people." If the owner was not on board, he may follow up with his delivery person (not a captain, because that designation is reserved for those who act responsibly) and fire him. I've been rolled in everything from a 30-foot sail boat to a classic 60-foot yacht. The only way to make sure you're going to get through such a situation with minimal effect is to keep the decks and tables below clear and keep an eye out for the bozo who's creating mayhem so you can turn into the wake and ride it out.
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