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US Senators Urge NOAA to Drop Proposed Right Whale Protection Rule

Organized pushback against federal efforts to reduce North Atlantic right whale deaths continues to grow in South Atlantic states as shipping and charter fishing interests try to stall or stop the implementation of new speed restrictions for vessels of 35 feet or larger.

As the days wound down on NOAA Fisheries’ public comment period, U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott teamed up with fellow Republican Senators from the Carolinas to oppose the new rule.

Their main beef with the rule is it alters “the long-standing and effective navigation safety ‘deviation clause’ contained in the current regulations.’ With regard to port safety and commercial viability, the rule was originally amended in 2008 to provide a navigation safety deviation clause that would allow large commercial ships to safely navigate within the confines of the narrow offshore Federal Navigation Channels (FNC) along the U.S. east coast.”

That also came up in a recent meeting of the Port of Fernandina’s Ocean Highway and Port Authority, which ultimately decided not to take a position on the new vessel strike reduction rule. However, the Florida Ports Council did in a recent tweet.

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