NOAA Addressing Petition that Seeks to Impose Vessel Speed Regulations That Would Harm Coastal Communities in the Gulf of Mexico

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is considering a petition that would unnecessarily restrict recreational boating access in large areas of the Gulf of Mexico.


Petitioners have requested that NOAA create a “Vessel Slowdown Zone” with a mandatory 10 knot (11 mph) speed limit for all vessels. The petition is intended to help protect the Rice’s whale, however, there has never been a documented case of a recreational vessel striking a Rice’s whale.


The petition also proposes the following additional restrictions on boaters:

  • No vessel transits at night;
  • Vessels transiting through the zone must report their plans to NOAA, utilize trained visual observers, and maintain a separation distance of 500 m from Rice’s whales;
  • Use and operate an Automatic Identification System, or notify NOAA of transits through the zone, and
  • Report all non-compliance to NOAA within 24 hours.

Make your voice heard, tell NOAA to reject this ill-advised petition and work with the recreational boating and fishing community to come up with an effective, data-driven strategy to protect the Rice’s whale.

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