Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: Endangered Fish and Wildlife; Final Rule To Remove the Sunset Provision of the Final Rule Implementing Vessel Speed Restrictions To Reduce the Threat of Ship Collisions With North Atlantic Right Whales
GAO-14-250R: Dec 20, 2013
GAO reviewed the Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) new rule on endangered fish and wildlife; final rule to remove the sunset provision of the final rule implementing vessel speed restrictions to reduce the threat of ship collisions with North Atlantic right whales. GAO found that (1) the final rule eliminates the expiration date or sunset clause contained in regulations restricting vessel speeds in order to reduce the likelihood of collisions with North Atlantic right whales causing death or serious injury. The regulations restrict vessel speeds to no more than 10 knots for vessels 65 feet (19.8 meters) or greater in overall length in certain locations and at certain times of the year along the east coast of the U.S. Atlantic seaboard. The speed regulations were set to expire December 9, 2013, unless the sunset clause is removed. With this final rule, the Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries Services (NMFS) is removing the rule's sunset provision. All other aspects of the rule remain in place until circumstances warrant further changes to the rule; and (2) GAO found NMFS complied with the applicable requirements in promulgating the rule.