NOAA grant program will invest in marine technology to prevent whale vessel strikes

Published On: June 6, 2024Categories: Industry News, News

The White House announced $6 million in Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) funding for the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) to support grants for projects that develop technologies to minimize the risk of vessel strikes to the endangered North Atlantic right whale population and other marine mammals. 

The grant announcement comes at a time when the proposed expansion of the 2008 North Atlantic Right Whale Vessel Strike Reduction Rule is at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which represents the last phase of the rulemaking process. 

The rule was transmitted in March to OMB by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which resides in the Department of Commerce. The transmission of the proposed rule to OMB occurred when NOAA was hosting a workshop to explore marine technologies that could lessen the risk of whale vessel strikes. The timing of the transmission of the rule to OMB frustrated the recreational boating and fishing industry, which has been adamant in its opposition to the rule and instead champions the use of technology by NOAA to address the North Atlantic right whale conservation challenge. 

“The recreational boating industry has long been urging NOAA to accelerate the analysis of currently available technologies as an alternative and measurable approach to reducing vessel strike risk for recreational boats, and we’re glad to see NOAA finally making use of Inflation Reduction Act funding towards this effort,” said Frank Hugelmeyer, president and CEO of the National Marine Manufacturers Association. “Technologies exist to help solve the North Atlantic right whale conservation challenge, which is why we continue to call upon the Administration to withdraw the vessel speed rule and instead use advanced marine technologies to mitigate the risk of vessel strikes.”