Local, state and federal elected leaders are joining the chorus of business leaders expressing concern over a newly proposed federal rule that will shut down nighttime vessel traffic along Florida’s Gulf Coast, and significantly reduce daytime vessel speeds.
We’ve shared how the proposed National Oceanic Atmospheric Association (NOAA) Rice’s Whale rules brought forward by a coalition of environmental groups pose a clear and present danger to Florida’s economy. This message has been chronicled by news organizations across the state and region, including the Tampa Bay Times, Bradenton Herald & Miami Herald, Panama City News Herald, WMNF, International Transport Journal, WMBB-TV, Tampa Bay Business Journal, Global Trade Magazine, WTVT-TV, News Service of Florida, The American Journal of Transportation, and more.
Now, the U.S. Senate Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Committee Report includes an explanatory report on Right Whales and Rice’s Whales. Sponsored by Senators Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) and Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), the report highlights how the National Marine Fisheries Service did not engage with ports and other stakeholders that would be affected by the rule.
“Before NOAA issues interim or final rules to protected endangered whales, the agency shall engage with affected stakeholders and incorporate relevant comments,” page 36 of the report explains.
Contained within the Vessel Strike Reduction Actions of the Committee report, NOAA is encouraged to use previously appropriated funds to support a near real-time monitoring and mitigation pilot program for Right Whales, and is further encouraged to work with other federal agencies to develop, test and evaluate whale monitoring technologies.
While this is just the first step in a long congressional process, we remain hopeful that our ongoing advocacy efforts on behalf of Florida’s seaports is working.
Congratulations to JAXPORT and Port Everglades for ranking in the Top 100 seaports, according to World Bank, 2023. According to the World Bank’s Container Port Performance Index, JAXPORT moved up from 94 last year to 82 this year, and Port Everglades saw a sizable ranking increase from 102 last year to 89 this year. Four Florida seaports continue to rank in the Top 10 in the North American region: JAXPORT, Port Everglades, Port Tampa Bay and PortMiami.
These are just a few of the top issues we’ll discuss during the upcoming Florida Ports Council 2023 Annual Meeting, slated for August 1-3 at the Hilton Ft. Lauderdale Marina. As a reminder, the Florida Seaport Transportation and Economic Development (FSTED) Program will also meet during this time frame. FSTED will hold its annual meeting on Wednesday, August 2, and the FPC will hold its annual board meeting on Thursday, August 3.
I look forward to seeing each of you in a few weeks.