September may feel like the last burst of summer, but there’s no shortage of hot topics happening in the maritime industry.
President Joe Biden’s administration continues its full-throated push to impose new restrictions in Gulf Coast waters as part of its effort to protect a newly discovered, and endangered, whale. This is despite the National Marine Fisheries Services (NMFS) proposal being based on a paucity of flawed scientific evidence, and being biased toward a conclusion that the Rice’s Whale is “one of the most endangered whales in the world.”
The NMFS proposal, in essence, seeks to impose federal regulations and limitations on all economic activity in the entirety of U.S. waters in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM). As such, the Florida Ports Council has been actively engaged on this issue from the start, and our efforts continue in real time as we prepare to submit our latest testimony to NMFS on its proposed rule to designate a critical habitat for Rice’s Whales.
Stakeholders in the maritime industry are also engaging in this important debate. An oil and gas industry trade group, the state of Louisiana and Chevron recently sued the Biden administration over its decision to withdraw acreage from an upcoming oil and gas lease sale in the GOM to protect the whale.
For local seaports submitting comment on the NMFS proposed rule, please be sure to submit your comments by October 6.
Hurricane Idalia plowed into Florida’s Gulf Coast on August 31, impacting not only many rural communities in Florida’s Big Bend, but also forcing the temporary closure of several ports in Florida. Florida’s seaports practice year-round for tropical events like these to ensure our ports, the environment and members of our community are safe. I continue to be so proud of the high-level of preparation and safety that our ports and port leaders’ practice. Reopening ports as quick as is safely possible is essential to ensure that food, fuel and medical supplies can get into the impacted communities quickly.
This week, we officially settled into the start of legislative committee weeks in preparation for the 2024 Legislative Session. As such, we say good bye to summer. Yet, we’re also bidding farewell to one of Florida’s icons – Jimmy Buffett. A lifelong conservationist, Jimmy captured the Florida lifestyle and entertained generations. He even shared his lifestyle brand with Florida’s cruise industry by bringing Margaritaville at Sea Cruise Line to the Port of Palm Beach.
We wish the “Son of a Son of a Sailor” fair winds and following seas.