U.S. Senator Katie Britt, R-Ala., on Thursday spearheaded an effort among the Alabama delegation, voicing their concerns about a recent NOAA proposal. The proposal by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA, is geared towards expanding the critical habitat for the Rice’s whale.
In their letter to NOAA Administrator Richard Spinrad, the Members emphasized the absence of scientifically robust data to validate the proposed habitat extension. They were also vocal about the potential detrimental implications this might have on Alabama’s economic framework, specifically citing disruptions to the Port of Mobile and both commercial and recreational fishing activities in the Gulf Coast region.
“The lack of justification for this proposal is glaring, and the inevitable, devastating consequences it would have on Alabama’s economy and the Gulf fishing industry are undeniable,” said Senator Britt. “We implore Administrator Spinrad to reject this harmful petition that relies on unproven research and would significantly hinder operations at the Port of Mobile, which hardworking Americans rely on for goods, supplies, and materials each and every day.”
Furthermore, they articulated serious reservations about the Rice’s whale petition, pointing out some of its impracticalities. These include hindrances to nighttime vessel operations, exhaustive vessel plan reporting to NMFS, and exhaustive monitoring demands for all seafaring vessels. They cautioned that embracing these proposals would deal a major blow to Alabama’s economy, all without clear evidence of any direct benefit to the Rice’s whales.
“We also have significant concerns with the seriously damaging ideas in the Rice’s whale petition which NMFS has noticed. The petitioners seek to stop vessel transits at night, require complete reporting of vessel plans to NMFS, and create onerous requirements for vessels to employ and utilize visual observers on all vessels. Severely curtailing operations at the Port of Mobile and strangling the commercial and recreational fishing operations off the Alabama coast, these illogical burdens would cause irreparable harm to the Alabama economy – all while current science does not demonstrate they will save any Rice’s whales,” the Members continued.
Among those standing with Senator Britt in this initiative are Representatives Jerry Carl, AL-01, Barry Moore, AL-02, Mike Rogers, AL-03, Robert Aderholt, AL-04, Dale Strong, AL-05, and Gary Palmer, AL-06.