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Ep.04 John DePersenaire: Speed Reduction Zones in the North Atlantic

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Контент предоставлен Katie C. Sawyer. Весь контент подкастов, включая эпизоды, графику и описания подкастов, загружается и предоставляется непосредственно компанией Katie C. Sawyer или ее партнером по платформе подкастов. Если вы считаете, что кто-то использует вашу работу, защищенную авторским правом, без вашего разрешения, вы можете выполнить процедуру, описанную здесь https://ru.player.fm/legal.

CONTACT YOUR LOCAL CONGRESSMAN:

https://www.boatingunited.org/take-action/congress-protect-boaters-speed-restrictions/?

Summary

In this conversation, Katie C. Sawyer and John DePersenaire discuss the proposed rule for the North Atlantic right whale situation and its implications for boaters and seaboard communities. They highlight the importance of speed for recreational fishermen and the economic impact of the proposed rule. They also emphasize the need for collaboration and the use of technology to address the issue. The regulatory process and timeline are also discussed. The conversation discusses the dual path process of rulemaking, with an interagency review and a public side. The role of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) is explained, along with the challenges of the public not being aware of any changes made to the rule. The formation and work of the Whale and Vessel Safety Task Force is highlighted. The current stage of the rule being in OIRA's hands is discussed, along with the strategy for the ongoing public comment period. The involvement of the Small Business Administration and the importance of a comprehensive approach are emphasized. The potential of recreational anglers as an untapped resource is mentioned, and a call to action is made to reach out to local congressmen and participate in the Boating United action alert.

Takeaways

  • The proposed rule for the North Atlantic right whale situation has significant implications for fishermen, including economic impact and access to fisheries.
  • Speed is essential for fishermen to reach fishing grounds and maximize their trips, and the proposed rule would greatly restrict their ability to do so.
  • Collaboration and the use of technology, such as artificial intelligence and marine electronics, can help reduce the risk of vessel strikes on whales.
  • The regulatory process for the proposed rule involves public comments and review by various agencies, with the final decision taking into account economic impacts and other factors. The rulemaking process involves both an interagency review and a public side, with the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) playing a key role.
  • The public is not made aware of any changes made to the rule during the interagency review, creating uncertainty.
  • The Whale and Vessel Safety Task Force is working on a comprehensive approach to reduce vessel strike risk and protect North Atlantic right whales.
  • The current stage of the rule is in OIRA's hands, and there is an ongoing public comment period.a
  • The involvement of the Small Business Administration and the need for a balanced approach that considers both industry needs and whale protection are important.
  • Recreational anglers have the potential to contribute valuable information and technology to mitigate the risk of vessel strikes.

Transcript

Katie (01:42.718)
What's up, you guys? Welcome to the Katie C. Sawyer podcast. I'm sitting down with John DePerson here today. John, tell us a little bit about yourself and who you are.

John DePersenaire (02:26.149)
Yeah, sure. Thank you, Katie. And thanks for having me on. So my name is John DePersonere and I'm the Director of Government Affairs.

So that's a really broad title and it really encompasses a lot of different aspects of my portfolio of work. So obviously things like regulatory issues, government affairs issues, things that have to do with either regulatory or legislation that impacts us as a manufacturer in the marine industry, but also how our customers use the boats. So like fisheries management, that's all really important part of that.

as well, but also then on the sustainability side, looking at things like efficiency, looking at our energy use, looking at our waste stream, all those sort of things, supporting efforts to support fish habitat and some other projects that we're doing. So it's a really broad scope of work and it's really, really interesting.

Katie (03:23.458)
That's awesome. That's a huge responsibility on your end. And like you said, broad. Before I started fishing, I was working, not even close, but I was working as director of environmental health and safety for an oil and gas company. And it's just like there's like this entire channel of products that you're supposed to manage. And you're like, I like this is so, so broad. But that's amazing. I'm really, really honored to be sitting with you here today. Thank you so much for giving your time. I really want to jump into what's going on.

on right now with the North Atlantic right whale situation and the proposed rule that was set forth in August of 2022 and how that's affected us and what we can see moving forward. So can you just give us a little bit of a status on what's going on with the right whales and what the what rule was proposed as a reaction of that?

John DePersenaire (04:17.536)
Yeah, so, you know, this is an issue the industry has really been following carefully for the past year and a half now. And as you said, you know, this proposed rule came out in August of 2022, and it was driven by NOAA. So NOAA has a an office within it's called the Office of Protective Resources. And their job is to carry out and implement.

the mandates of the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act. So with North Atlantic right whales, they are, there's no question that they are in pretty serious, dire concern in terms of a population size. And just, you know, recognizing the history of that species, it really was one of the targeted, most targeted species in commercial whaling for centuries, which really-

drove down the population, but also imposed some sort of ecological constraints, which just made it much harder to rebuild when commercial whaling stops. So like when you fish a, or not even fish, but when you hunt a population down that low, you start to have genetic issues. And we see that like with, you know, upland hunting and things like that, you try to manage for a strong gene stock. And so that was one of the constraints. So that like, you know, if you look at

reproductive output for North Atlantic right whales, it has been trailing off. And so it just makes it that much harder to rebuild. So they know the two main sources of mortality for North Atlantic right whales are entanglement with fishing gear, mostly lobster pots up in Massachusetts and North and also up in Canada where they spend their summers and vessel strikes. And so NOAA has been trying to...

up with management measures that addressed those two sources of mortality. And so the rule that came out in August, that was directed towards the latter, that was directed towards reducing risk of vessel strikes. And what that did was it expanded upon an existing rule that was in place starting in 2008. And what it did was it dropped the size class of vessel that would be subject to vessel speed rules. It expanded the areas that would be subject to the seasonal management areas.

John DePersenaire (06:39.036)
And it also expanded the vessels. So it dropped it down from 65 and above down to 35 feet and above. And so what that really did was originally the 2008 rule was really focused more on the ocean-going vessels, so like the container ships, the tankers, some of those really high displacement, high tonnage boats. It also captured some of the recreational fleet as well.

but the intent was really the bigger ocean growing vessels. And so this step now starts to bring in a massively different segment of the fleet now. And you're starting to bring in center consoles and a whole bunch of boats that have probably never even seen a North Atlantic right whale. And so this is all about reducing risk. And this is what is somewhat different than what we typically deal with fisheries management.

Katie, I know you're really versed on highly migratory species, you know, and so a lot of times we're dealing with, you know, quota setting and, you know, really specific percent reductions, trying to get to a sustainable biomass and things like that. So we can tailor regulations based on that percent reduction we have to achieve. This is a little bit more nebulous in the sense that we don't actually have that number that we need to reduce risk by. And so that's a really challenging thing.

for us to look at. And so we're just not versed in trying to figure out how we come up with a solution to that. And so when we first saw the rule, we're like, oh my God, this is gonna impact a vast number of boats. For a lot of people, it's gonna go into effect November 1st and last through the end of May. So those are really, really important times of year for up and down the coast now. I mean, as you know, like we have some of the best tuna fishing off of...

New York and New Jersey now in November and December, which is crazy to think, but I mean, it's just, those are no longer months when people have their boat out of the water and up on the hard for the winter. It's, you know, we're fishing all the way through January. And so that becomes a real, real big impact. Also guys that move their boats from say our area down to South Florida in the fall, you know, they're gonna be subject to this. And so what, you know, typically is a...

John DePersenaire (09:02.128)
know, two, three day trip now becomes something massively different when you're going 10 knots. And so there's all sort of implications that we have to think about in terms of impacts of this. But one of our biggest criticisms was obviously, you know, a recreational boat hitting a North Atlantic right whale is an extremely rare instance. In fact, we have some third party analysis that really shows that it is like that one in a million chance. I mean, that really is

numbers of boats and the numbers of strikes that are attributed to those boats under 65 feet. But the other thing that we were we were sort of upset about was that there was really no alternative in there that took into consideration technology, right? And so, you know, Katie, I know you've run boats for a long time and, you know, boats are constantly improving it. And so for,

you know, every time you come out with a new model, it's always safer than the last model. And that's just a function of, you know, engineering, design, improvements in marine electronics. And so safety is just one of those key elements when you're building boats, you know, safety, efficiency, performance, amenities are sort of like the top four things, right? And so a big part of safety is collision avoidance. Like, and we don't want to hit anything that's on the water. I mean, you know, like,

Katie (10:29.37)
I think what a lot of people don't understand is that a vessel between 35-65 foot, if it hits a whale, we know and there's gonna be damage. There's gonna be significant damage to the vessel and like you said, potentially the safety of the people on board. That's a really good point.

John DePersenaire (10:47.82)
Yeah, so I mean, the point is, is that, you know, this is a space that, you know, we and other builders and the whole marine industry are constantly working on. It's not like we just heard about this rule and like, now let's figure out something to do here to not hit whales. Like this is just something we do and not to put it in a in-person way, but a North Atlantic right whale is just another object in the water that we do not want to hit. And we have been developing products over these years that allows us not to hit them at a reduced rate. So.

We've been making progress on this and we were, it was unfortunate that there were no alternatives that kind of gave us credit for that or provided an opportunity to explore how technology can reduce risk. So, of course.

Katie (11:31.502)
I'm going to stop you right there before you go on because this is a great segue. The first thing I want to touch on is you said a couple things throughout that were interesting points. So from what I understand, correct me if I'm wrong, in 2008 there were speed reduction zones put in place in the Atlantic Northwest of the ocean, Atlantic Northwest, Northeast of the U.S. That always gets confusing for me. Where speed reduction zones for ships above 65 foot.

length. Is that correct?

John DePersenaire (12:03.6)
That is correct. And most of those areas were around sort of the entrances to major courts. So like the approach to New York Harbor, Delaware Bay, Chesapeake Bay, Cape Fear. Then there was also areas south of Cape Hatteras where there are seasonal nursing areas and calving areas. So like where the mother and the calf are spending a lot of time down there in the winter time. And they are vulnerable down there, there's no question.

Katie (12:29.118)
Yeah, for sure. And it's specific in areas where you see a lot of cargo ships coming through because it's significant to global trade and economy. Now, can you tell us a little bit about how, if there was any impact on our economy based on the speed reduction zones for vessels of that size?

John DePersenaire (12:49.304)
Yeah, I mean, you know, one thing that's been interesting about this rule is it sort of brought a lot of different sectors together that typically didn't work on, you know, issues together. And so one of those, well, a couple of those sectors were pilots, you know, fast ferries, the shipping interests, the ports, and, you know, so offshore wind, you know, they all have really big concerns and they...

speculate it's going to have implications not only for their operational needs, but also you think about just getting product to shelves. Does that impact supply chain issues? Does that impact availability of products? Does that impact cost to the consumer? So all those sort of things are playing into this and they certainly have implications that are not discrete to

recreational fishing and boating, this is something that would impact a significantly broad part of the maritime commerce in general.

Katie (13:56.398)
Mm-hmm.

But, okay, let's talk about how you said it's difficult, I believe, I think you said that it's difficult to quantify the population of whales right now. Do we know how long it takes for them to reproduce and they have how many, they have one pup, I think it's a pup, right, a whale? I'm not sure, one baby, a calf, that's right. A calf at a time, correct? And every now and then too, but like you were saying,

John DePersenaire (14:18.835)
Cheers.

Katie (14:27.912)
significantly decreased base to overfishing or over harvesting. So in the past, way years ago. So I just want to like really clear up the blurry areas of the last 15 years of regulation to help protect these Atlantic right whales. Is that what you said? Is it the population's difficult to quantify?

John DePersenaire (14:53.912)
Well, it's not typically challenging to quantify it. And in fact, North Atlantic right whales are probably one of the most studied and monitored large marine mammal populations in the world. I mean, that's a fact. What I think difficult is that, again, we're not seeing reproductive output that would sort of get us to that number that they believe it needs to be at to be considered sustainable.

And so, like, for example, I'm not a North Atlantic right whale biologist, so I don't know the exact numbers in terms of, you know, their gestation period and how, you know, their sort of calving cycle. But I do know from a management standpoint, the agency is sort of looking for 50 calves a year to, for many years to get the population to a sustainable level. And if you look at reproductive output over the past, you know, 10 years,

I don't think we've gotten to 50 once, you know. So it's sort of underperforming and there's a lot of reasons for that. You know, genetic issues are one, the population size is small, so it's harder for them to communicate and find the mates. You know, there's things happening with climate change and their food source, you know, they're really dependent on copepods and, you know, they're not sort of like a humpback that can, you know, switch from, you know, herring to bunker to, you know, anchovy, you know, like,

you know, they're really discreet feeders and they are really keyed in on copepods. And so their availability of copepods is somewhat changing and perhaps putting them in more areas where they're vulnerable to things like ship strikes. So there's a lot of challenges that are happening there.

Katie (16:37.45)
Yes, excellent answer. I love it. So what we're seeing is we're trying to, well, Noah put forth a rule, a proposed rule to try and limit the speed of vessels to help protect these whales, but there's lots of potential issues associated with that. Now you mentioned taking into...

Now, you mentioned taking into account technology. Can you go on that a little bit for me?

John DePersenaire (17:07.936)
Yeah, so, you know, and I think it's important, maybe your audience, it's not really important, but yeah, I know for some people involved with this issue, this is important, and they don't quite understand this, that for us, speed is an essential element of our boats, right? Not only is it, you know, safer, you know, to run a boat when it's, you know, operating at a, you know, at the most optimal speed.

But for us, we're not necessarily designed to be out in weather that a container ship can be out in. And so speed allows us to maximize on these weather windows of opportunity, right? And so if we are trying to get to fishing grounds and it takes us say two hours to get out there, we can conduct our trip and get back before that weather turns and makes it unsafe out there. If we are now forced to, you know,

to have that two hour trip now become six hours to get out to wherever those grounds are, that could put us in a unsafe situation or we just canceled the trip altogether because the weather window was not big enough. So speed is one of those things and just everything about our vessels is designed around performance, speed and range. And that's really the only way recreational guys can access the fisheries. I mean, we are not...

commercial fishermen where we can go out, you know, 10 days at a time and, you know, say goodbye to the family and say, Hey, I'm going marlin fishing. I'll be back in 10 days. Maybe some people can do that, but you know, it's a different, it's a different element for us, you know? And so speed is, is it's not something we can dismiss and say, well, you guys can just go slow and still carry on your way. Like it doesn't work that way. Speed is an essential element of our boats.

Katie (18:42.37)
Yeah.

Katie (18:54.002)
And why is it important for these fishermen to be able to get out to the fishing grounds instead of canceling their trip when there's weather? Like tell us about the economic benefits of that.

John DePersenaire (19:02.964)
Oh, I mean, yeah, I mean, so well, I mean, it's well, first of all, it's it drives a significant economic impact. I mean, so just from Viking standpoint, I mean, this is a really prime example. You know, we're the leader of the world leader in terms of building sport fish boats. You know, we produce the most in the world and our boats are really designed exactly to go far and fast and engage the highly migratory species. And so if you take away our ability to.

to go fast and access the fish that our boats are designed to do. I mean, the value of that goes down significantly, you know. And so, you know, we have over 2,000 employees that are just building boats to go fast and offshore. I mean, that's exactly what we have a workforce that's doing every day, you know, and that includes electronics folks and everything. So the impact is it just cannot be understated more. And I think what was so alarming in

Katie (19:49.055)
locally.

John DePersenaire (20:03.46)
the proposed rule in terms of the cost benefit analysis that NOAA put together, they did not understand that trips would be canceled and people wouldn't even take trips under a 10 knot limit. And so yeah, and this is the other thing that's really important. So it's not like these areas are going to be really, you know, discrete like they were in 2008 and they were around just, you know, entrances to inlets and ports and things like that.

know, in some cases, like in the Middle Atlantic, they're going offshore 90, 100 miles, you know, and so, you know, it's hard to imagine even going 20 or 30 miles at 10 knots in a recreational boat. I mean, it's just, it's hard to imagine that. And I just know that would just drive people not to do it. Their boats would come out, you know, December or October 31st, they wouldn't go back in until June 1st, and, you know, you're missing a massive amount of economic activity for that.

Katie (20:42.614)
No, it's...

John DePersenaire (20:57.268)
And also, I mean, you're really denying a lot of people access to fisheries. So, you know, I know you're a big, you know, HMS fisherman. And so that's one of those fisheries where only the public can only access that through a boat. Like, so the HMS permit that everyone gets that goes out in Marlin and tuna fishes, you know, that's assigned to a vessel. It's not like you can fish for them from shore. It's just illegal to do that, quite frankly, which is an interesting discussion all in itself. But.

Katie (20:57.364)
Yeah.

Katie (21:21.751)
Yeah.

John DePersenaire (21:25.42)
So you have to go out on either your own boat, your friend's boat, a charter boat, a headboat, you know? And so when you start to think about how this would impact those boats, you almost become, it almost becomes an obstacle for the public to access those fisheries, which are really economically valuable, sustainably managed and really good eating, you know, for some of them, not marlin, of course.

Katie (21:47.074)
Mm-hmm. Yep. No. Yeah.

John DePersenaire (21:50.36)
But you know what I mean, so it becomes this impediment for the public to access a well-managed resource. And I think that's like a really unintended consequence that they didn't quite think about when they put this into place.

Katie (22:02.166)
Right, definitely. Because, I mean, it's not just, like you said, it's not just all the jobs that would be at risk at Viking. It's all of these seaboard communities that depend on the tourism, that depend on people wanting to go offshore and go fishing recreationally. Didn't you tell me, John, that you did a impact study on one specific operation and the amount of economic loss that company would had was just exponential? What was that?

John DePersenaire (22:30.188)
Yeah, so that's a tour boat captain out of North Jersey. And his specialty is getting folks out, particularly in the fall, to chase striped bass and tuna. And he's built a great business on that. He's got several captains, quite a few mates. He's got three boats. And just looking at his operation between the times that this rule would be in effect between November 1st and the end of May.

He was looking at losing 70 trips. And so that was roughly working out to $140,000 a year, just for him. And it's not just him as the owner operator, but his mates, the other captains that run that boat, the people that detail and service his boat, the people he buys the bait from. It's just that you talked about, yeah, the marina where, I mean, all that shoreside infrastructure that supports the recreational fishery and commercial fishery would be impacted.

Katie (23:09.567)
Yeah.

Katie (23:17.226)
The Marina. All the support.

Katie (23:28.09)
Yeah. And then you have situations like, for example, the White Marlin Open in Ocean City, where I mean, it's not really in the zone, but you have I'm sorry, not really in the time frame, but you have so many people coming to these communities and it's quantifiable millions of dollars being brought into these communities just so that people can be a part of the recreational fishing sector. Like, I mean, that's crazy. That's crazy to me. Hotels, restaurants, all of that

Katie (23:57.904)
really big in the northeast. So I find that interesting. I'd like to also touch a little bit on how we have...

there seems to be like a big disconnect between what people are, how some people are dubbed environmentalists. It's kind of like a like a bad word sometimes in our industry, which is strange because in my mind, like I'm an environmentalist 100%. I have a master's degree in environmental science, you know, like I, I'm an environmentalist, but I love the ocean. I'm also a fisherman. And I think that there's like this stipulation between the parties

other every single time. And for example, I think that a lot of people think that fishermen aren't conservationists, that fishermen don't love the ocean, but we're the ones that are spending our lives out on the ocean that want to share that with other people. And I think it's important to really highlight the fact that a lot of times you'll see polarization between the parties, but that involving different stakeholders is really important in making educated good

benefit of the whale population. You touched on how this has brought together a lot of different stakeholders. Can you tell me a little bit more about that?

John DePersenaire (25:18.348)
Yeah, and that's a really good perspective. And so, you know, one of the things that when we saw the rule come out and sort of analyzed it, and, you know, we obviously knew it was gonna have impacts from an economic standpoint and an access standpoint. But we also knew that there was other ways of addressing this. Like, we just feel like we're too smart of an industry not to come up with another way of, or providing another tool to help with this issue.

And so what we did was we pulled together a task force of experts in various different fields, from marine electronics to analyzing very high resolution satellite to artificial intelligence, processing thermal imagery and visual imagery, forward-facing sonar, modelers that work on crime analysis, but they can see an application here for

managing whales, even friends at like, you know, ROFs, which, you know, I know a lot of your listeners are really familiar with, you know, they have a really interesting approach that, you know, they analyze sea conditions looking for marlin and tuna, but that same application can be used to figure out where we may want to focus management efforts for North Atlantic right whale. So all of this gives us the ability to start to think about how we could more...

Katie (26:36.45)
So cool.

John DePersenaire (26:43.3)
dynamically manage this and also have more nuanced approaches that are consistent with what we see in terms of differences of risk across vessel classes. So like what we may want to see for say an ocean going vessel, like a container ship, may not be the best approach for what we see on a 35 foot center console. You know, there's just the attributes of those vessels. It's just vastly different.

there's safety concerns that, say the center console can take a base of action, whereas a container ship just, they're not at liberty to take action or slow down or any of those things. So the idea of this task force was really to look at ways that we could start to think about it on that more nuanced level. And also a big part of that was really putting an aggressive thought towards leveraging technology. And again, I...

spoke before about how we're always building a safer boat every day. It's not like we build a less safe boat tomorrow. We're just constantly improving upon that. But what's really interesting about the task force is that we've put this really aggressive focus on marine mammals. So we've always been trying to avoid anything that's in the water. And now we've just sort of thought about how we can be more.

narrowly focused to speed up acceleration for marine mammals. So for instance, we did a pilot project last December off the coast of New Jersey and we affixed, you know, so Viking, Atlantic Marine Electronics, working with a company, you know, so we put a FLIR on top of a commercial fishing boat out of Barnegotte Light, you know, and FLIR is something you're familiar with, you know, a lot of our boats have that, you know, it's nothing new, right? And so what was really

knew about this was that the FLIR feed was being processed real time by an artificial intelligence algorithm. So it was able to, as that feed was coming in, it was able to classify a whale spout, you know, so its breath, it could pick that up, and also its body. And so it was a really fascinating exercise to see what is possible. And it wasn't perfect.

John DePersenaire (29:04.056)
But as you know, with AI, it's just, the training is what makes it so good. So the more these things are used, the more data we can throw at them. That's what's really going to spark this innovation. That's what's really going to accelerate this process. And I think what's so interesting about that is that it's coming from the private sector. So you talked about environmentalists. It's, I'm not dismissing any other industry, but we're really at the forefront of trying to find.

pathways here to reduce our risk of hitting whales. And that's a really important thing. So one of the things that the task force asked for, you know, over a year and a half ago was for NOAA to convene a workshop and to pull all these various stakeholders together, you know, and figure out how we can collaborate. You know, what are people working on in all these different buckets that have to sort of be addressed and come together to create this overall bigger risk reduction approach.

And so that workshop was finally convened last week. And I think it demonstrated a couple of things. First of all, I think it demonstrated that we are sincere. We're here to work. We're not starting from zero. And we've been focusing on this over the past 12 months. The other, I think, really important thing was that we're open to working with anyone. So this is sort of separate from the vessel speed rule in the sense that

we're committing long term to doing our part in this issue. And so we are willing to work with anyone. If anyone has a project that they've been working on that has some relevance for this and there's some ability to assist or support what they're doing or bringing them on. And we can provide vessel time on one of our demo boats or something like that. We are open to working through this solution in good faith. And that's something I think was, I think our industry really demonstrated that.

commitment to this and I was very impressed and really I was quite proud, you know, to show us, you know, the garments, the Navico's, the, you know, the fathoms, the roffs of the world to show up and say, yeah, what can we do? You know, let's roll up our sleeves. Let's think about this as a problem that we can all collectively contribute to and make some real progress towards. So it was great to see that.

Katie (31:18.766)
Yeah.

That's awesome. I love, I got chicken skin. That's super cool. Um, congratulations. Can you give us like a timeline breakdown? A little idea on the regulatory side, how it looks, because this is where things get a little blurry for me, if I'm being honest. But the regulatory side, how it looks, you, um, they, they proposed a rule. Then the Whale and Vessel Safety Task Force, that's what it's called, right? That's the name for it? Was assembled. And tell me a little bit about the timeline.

that has ensued since the rule was proposed and what has gone on y'all's end and on the government end.

John DePersenaire (31:58.124)
Okay, yeah, so like you said, the rule was introduced in August of 2022, and it's following, it's moving forward with the traditional federal rulemaking process. So it was open for public comments for, originally it was open for 30 days, believe it or not. And so one of the first things we did, I think the next day or the day after that, Viking put in a request for an extension for the public comment period, because we just.

I mean, we knew immediately that this was the most consequential regulation that was ever going to impact our industry.

Katie (32:32.35)
I mean it's crazy. You already touched on the fact that like 10 knots is so slow. You guys, 10 knots you get like approximately 10 miles in one hour. That is so slow. That's what we go at night when we can't see anything.

John DePersenaire (32:37.448)
Right.

John DePersenaire (32:43.02)
Yeah. Right.

Right. And so we knew we needed more time. So we put that request in. We got another 30 days. So the comment period was open for a total of 60 days. And so there was over 90,000 comments that were submitted from various interest groups. And we're very passionate about this issue, but there's also that other side that are very passionate about whale conservation, and rightfully

John DePersenaire (33:17.368)
we agree that we need to do something to help them. Absolutely we do. And so when that comment period closes, Noah is then charged with reviewing all those comments and responding to them. Not necessarily each individual comment per se, but the general themes of the comments. So there could have been say, 5,000 comments that were all sort of geared in one direction or.

there may be 10,000 comments that came from an action alert or something like that. So they can respond to them as an aggregate, not necessarily each individual one. And so they look at those comments and they take them into consideration and they think about how they could perhaps modify the regulation. And so they can do a couple of things. They can, they can make modifications in response to those comments where they can do nothing and move forward with it. And so that's something that the public is not aware.

And when, yeah, and so when federal rulemaking is taking place, in fact, the agency charged with putting forward that rule typically has, you know, is not able to talk about specifics in terms of modifications to what they may be considering or may have done in that rule. So it's sort of an unknown how this is sort of playing out. And so, but.

Katie (34:13.95)
It's behind closed doors.

John DePersenaire (34:37.44)
it has taken a much longer time. So originally when the rule came out in 2022, there was this sense, again, I talked about that really short public comment period, 30 days, but there was also this thought that they wanted to hurry this up and have it in place by November of 2022. And so we were like, oh my God, how can this dig? And so that was sort of the timeframe that the agency was initially pushing. And so as you can see, that's been

Katie (34:55.77)
Oh my gosh. Ah!

John DePersenaire (35:07.068)
significantly, significantly extended and not just because of the impacts to, you know, again, going back not to the impacts just to us, you're talking about, you know, national economy wide sort of impacts that have to be considered. And it wasn't just us that were submitting comments with concerns, it was the ports, it was the pilot associations, it was the shipping interests, it was the ferries, it was a whole host of people that make a living or their businesses tied to

moving on the oceans. So it's a big deal. And so, so as you can see, we're much farther along than the original timeframe that no one wanted to get this done by. And so now we've just transitioned into this final step. And so some of you may have seen the first week of March, the rule went from the Department of Commerce, it went to a small office within the White House. It's called the

Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. And that's sort of this final analysis where they look at all the work that NOAA has done in developing the rule. They look at their cost benefit analysis, their modeling exercises, how they are looking at risk reduction, what alternatives they've put forward, the economic impacts. So they look at sort of all of that. And they also, even though they're not necessarily a political branch, they look at sort of the

of the White House, they also try to mesh up what this rule could do in terms of some of the priorities of the administration. So, you know, things like, you know, how will this impact American jobs? How would it impact domestic manufacturing? How would this impact inflation? How would this impact supply chain issues? All sort of things that we've been talking about over the past few years. So that could come into play in this, because of course, when...

Katie (36:55.158)
macroscopic view.

John DePersenaire (37:01.46)
no one in the Office of Protected Resources put forward a rule, they're not necessarily in the position where they have to give so much weight to some of those bigger sort of impacts. They're really just, again, their mandate is really to put forward measures that seek to protect and rebuild an endangered species. And that's, so this sort of all comes together at this final stage. And there are opportunities for the public to weigh in.

There's also opportunities for, you know, members of Congress and other people to weigh in this process. It's sort of a dual path project that happened in parallel. One is an interagency review, which is not open to the public. So that's where this office of OIRA will reach out to, say, Interior or Commerce, all these different departments within the federal government, and ask about their input and thoughts on the rule and how it would impact the

the issues and the stakeholders that they're charged with dealing with. And then also there's this public side. So the members of the public actually can request a meeting with OIRA and then the final stage.

Katie (38:12.882)
OIRA is Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. And so when the rule got pushed to OIRA or given to OIRA, did it then become public knowledge or is it still all behind closed doors? We don't know what's going on after the comment period.

John DePersenaire (38:17.68)
That's right.

John DePersenaire (38:29.26)
Yeah, yeah, yeah. And that's what's so challenging about this. Again, I said there is an opportunity for the public to weigh in and have a meeting, but when the rule advances, the public is not made aware if any changes have been made. So we understand that some changes were in consideration, but we don't know specifics or if they address all of our concerns. We have no idea.

Katie (38:54.818)
from that public comment period, way at the beginning. Wow, so all this time, it's been behind closed doors. We have no idea what's being discussed or if there have been any changes being made. We can speculate on what's being discussed, but if there have been any changes being made, and then it gets pushed over to OIRA, we still don't know, but there is an opening for public comment. When is that opening for public comment? Has it already happened?

John DePersenaire (38:57.296)
Correct. Yes.

John DePersenaire (39:21.912)
So it starts when the rule is forwarded to OIRA. So it's open now as of the odds of March. And we don't know exactly when that closes. So there's a bit of uncertainty in the speed at which a rule can stay or advance out of OIRA. And there's a couple different things that could happen here. One, OIRA could review this and say there are concerns. And

we need to go back and come up with different, or not different, but add different alternatives, or add new ways of dealing with this issue. So thinking back to the original rule that came out, there was a whole bunch of support documentation that was with that. And one of those was the draft environmental assessment. And in that assessment, it included five different alternatives.

but all of them were exclusively focused on vessel speed. There was no consideration of technology or any other ways of reducing risk of vessel strikes. And so one thing that could happen is that OIRA looks at this and says, the economic impacts are significant enough that we want to send this back to NOAA for them to consider alternatives that could utilize existing technology or technologies that could be developed.

to help with this issue of reducing risk. So that's a pathway that could be beneficial for us, or it could just move forward as written. Again, we don't know exactly how it's been rewritten, but it could just move forward and become final.

Katie (41:00.13)
So tell me how the building or the assembling of the Whale and Vessel Safety Task Force has played a role in this process.

John DePersenaire (41:15.168)
Yeah, it's been a really interesting, and I'm so grateful to the members who agreed to sit on that task force, because I think it's unprecedented in the sense that we've seen such a diverse field of experts really sit down and commit to working on this. So the task force is just a, basically it's a think tank, you know?

But it has all the key elements, right? So, you know, obviously we're looking at things like detection. We're thinking about how detection information makes it out to the fleet. You know, how that one, you know, how we want that to display on someone's multifunction display. We're thinking about how we can better model. So we're thinking about this in a really holistic way. And we're trying to address all these different sort of puzzle pieces that have to come together.

to ultimately get information out to operators. Because that's a huge part of this and something that is just so, it's just missing from the current approach is that if we can get information out to operators, information that's timely and relevant, there is a significant benefit in that. And as you know, as an operator, like, you know, you don't wanna be bombarded with information that's not relevant, right? You know, because the last thing you want is,

Katie (42:41.358)
Oh god no.

John DePersenaire (42:43.076)
being, you know, having all these alerts going off, because after three or four, you're like, oh, that was for, you know, an area 100 miles south of me. Like you're going to turn it off or silence it, you know? And so one of the big things that we really have to focus on is getting the most relevant, important information out to operators when they're in an area where they need to get that information. And that's a key element that this task force and what the industry is working on. So as you know, like,

Katie (42:47.85)
Mm-hmm, you get me. Yeah.

John DePersenaire (43:11.056)
There is a ton of research institutions out there that have been doing incredible work on North Atlantic right whales and marine mammals in general, like just experts. Awesome, they do such good work. But that information and that work has not much use for us in its present form. There has to be this connection to the marine industry to bring it all together and then to have a positive response. And that's ultimately what we're trying to do. We're trying to give...

operators information so they can make decisions about their trips and also how they can make decisions about reducing risk of hitting wells, right? And so that is the real critical element where the task force and our industry plays a role that sort of no one else can. Like we have to be at the table if we want to see this complete solution, so to speak, come together.

Katie (43:49.196)
Right.

Katie (44:04.826)
Yes, okay, I love it. So not only has it been, has since the public comment period has been behind closed, I'm sorry. So not only has everything been behind closed doors since the initial public comment period, but this task force has been assembling. And didn't you guys push to have a NOAA representative sit aboard the task force so that they can know what's going on?

John DePersenaire (44:31.904)
Yeah, no, and it's been a great asset for us and I think for Noah as well. So we meet with that liaison once a month. And you know, I think that's a great

It's a great commitment showing that they're willing to engage with us and share information. And one of the things from this workshop that we're really keen on doing is continuing that sense of collaboration that we saw during the workshop. I mean, I think the majority of people went into that really with, you know, this willingness to sit and talk with anyone and really figure out how we can work together on this issue. And so

That's something we really want to continue with NOAA moving forward. You know, again, we may have concerns with the rule, but we're in complete agreement that we want to reduce vessel strike risk. So we are in parallel with them on that effort if they're willing to work with us. And everything we've seen so far since the workshop has been great. And we want to continue that type of synergy that we think is really essential for this type of problem.

Katie (45:40.758)
Well, on behalf of the industry, I think it's absolutely incredible that you guys have not only like just sat back after public comment period, but taken all this initiative to, like you said, take a holistic approach on the issue and to come forth and provide a solution and to fight to make sure that no one knows exactly what's going on and to have a liaison there. I think that's awesome. So the rule right now is in OI-Rez hands. Is that is that correct?

John DePersenaire (46:09.764)
That's correct.

Katie (46:10.672)
So you mentioned there's another opportunity for public comment, which is happening right now. But you don't know what's being discussed in the rule or what's being proposed moving forward or what Oryrus is exactly seeing. So what's your strategy going into this public comment period? Because you can't say what you said in the initial one because that's just a waste of time, right? So what's your mindset there? Like how are we looking at that?

John DePersenaire (46:39.372)
Yeah, so.

Our strategy going into this is, again, we don't know what the rule is, but I mean, I think from Viking's, I'm just going to speak just from Viking standpoint, you know, we have, you know, just over 20 different models of boats. All of them are over 35 feet, except for three. So I mean, the impact to us is really, really significant. And even if they were to say, increase that minimum threshold from 35 up to 40, it really doesn't do much.

for us. So our argument really has not changed even if say the rule has changed as it's progressed on to O'Rei-Ry. And again, we're just speculating. We don't know exactly what they've done to that rule. But there's really a couple of things that we are going to bring to those meetings and how we're going to try to address this. There still are really significant modeling flaws. So this is something we talked about early on.

Katie is that, you know, the way no one looks at vessels and the risk is associated with that vessel. Originally, it was those 35 foot and up all had the same sort of characteristics, right? So you think about displacement and draft depth, you know, they are just vastly different between a Panama X container ship and a 35 foot center console. And so one of the big criticisms is like, you know, if you're going to model risk, I mean,

come to us, get the data, we can show you what a 35 foot center console drafts, right? And what it does at 10 knots and actually how that draft actually to step tall, it starts to decrease as you get up on plane. So we can show you all of that. And we don't think that they've taken enough steps to get to that level of specificity that would make sense from a management standpoint. So we still think that they are vastly, vastly.

Katie (48:12.715)
Open book.

John DePersenaire (48:35.936)
inflating risk of recreational boats because they haven't, at least as far as I know, they have not come to any of the manufacturers to get those vessel specs, which would be critical to put into that risk encounter model, which is driving a lot of this. So that's something we will continue to point out. The other thing is that we sort of do now have real impacts. So we've had a few orders that have not gone through because of the vessel speed rule. So...

no longer is this theoretical in terms of what it could do to an industry like recreational fishing and boating or a boat builder like flaking. We now have demonstrable impacts and it's not just us and our workforce. You know, for that boat in particular that was canceled, you know, there's 28 different suppliers that we go to from engines to stabilization to electronics packages to...

know, riggers, rott holders, coolers, fish box appliances, like the list is significant, you know. So again, we can start to demonstrate that their cost benefit analysis, which put this at three, roughly $3,000 per vessel per year, was just vastly underestimated because we now have, you know, we now have one example where we can just say, we can walk through, you know, the spec sheet, the bill sheet for that boat and say like,

Katie (49:47.227)
Oh my gosh.

John DePersenaire (49:59.512)
what we had to go back to those people and say, this order is not going through now, we're gonna need to cancel this PO. And so, and also wrapped up in that boat was roughly 13,000 labor hours. So that's a big hit for a workforce that is here to build boats. So that's really what we're going into, but obviously other groups will be going in talking about the safety aspects, talking about the privacy aspects, knowing that AIS, a safety tool.

is now being used for enforcement. And that's a huge concern. Talking about just the public's access to the resources, you know, these well-managed fisheries, which we've worked all so hard to get rebuilt and well-managed, and now all of a sudden, we're not going to have access to them for up to seven months out of the year. So those are all key issues that, you know, we are going to be going into this OIRA phase really trying to drive home. And of course, you know, small businesses will be weighing in as well. The ferries, the charterboat guys that, you know,

can demonstrate lost trips during these periods of time. All that is really, really critical in this stage.

Katie (51:06.914)
I want to ask you about the small business and the inter, I don't remember the lingo, but the intergovernment relations or branches. We'll get to that. But first I would like for you to tell me, please tell me a little bit about how they're proposing for AIS to be used for surveillance and why that's an issue. Tell us what AIS is. Start from the beginning.

John DePersenaire (51:27.488)
Yeah, so that is it. Yeah, so AIS is Automatic Information System. And so the easiest way to think about AIS is almost like air traffic control. So when you pull up like flight aware, you can see the flight number, all the aspects about that plane, what its heading is. And we have something very similar on the marine side. And the rules for vessels that are required to carry AIS

generally broken down into two classes. One is class A, those are vessels that are over 65 foot and engaged in commercial activities. So they have both receiving and transmitting AIS. And what that means is that they are sending out a signal that gives it's, you know, the vessel's identification, what its classification is, its heading and its speed, I believe, and also its position. So you can...

Katie (52:18.89)
Yeah, speed, length, and bear, yeah.

John DePersenaire (52:22.028)
So, right, so if you pull up something like marine traffic, you can actually see where all those big MERSC ships are, are going and all the tugs and tows are going because that's a really important thing to know. Like if you go out and fish for, you know, giants in the mud hole and spring fog, you really want to know those boats are coming, right? So it's a huge safety tool. Boats that are under 65 feet or non-class A vessels include a lot of like, you know, Vikings and sport fish boats. And they're typically,

Katie (52:40.096)
Yeah, definitely.

John DePersenaire (52:52.044)
receive only. So they get the benefit of receiving that AIS signal, but they don't have to transmit their information. And so what's been happening over the past few years is that NOAA enforcement has been going into these data sets of AIS data and they've been retrospectively investigating boats and seeing where they may have exceeded some of the existing, again, remember,

going back to 2008, there have been some areas that have been placed since then for both 65 foot and bigger. And what they've done is they've gone back and figured out, just calculated if they exceeded the speed limits. In a lot of cases, it's not even like, you know, it's a 10 knots. Two years. Yeah. Or, and in cases, some cases it's like, you know, not even like, you know, they're going 40 miles an hour in this, you know, 10 knot zone. They're going like 13 knots, like something that

Katie (53:34.89)
It's not even real time. It's like going back and looking and then...

John DePersenaire (53:49.396)
And you know, running boats, like depending on the sea, you can be, you can be going between bouncing between eight and 12 a lot of times, right? Even if you're just trying to spend the tide or you're navigating an inlet. And so.

Katie (53:50.882)
with the current, yeah.

Katie (53:55.534)
12. Yeah? Mm-hmm.

Katie (54:01.226)
especially when you're looking at a ship of that magnitude and size.

John DePersenaire (54:04.14)
Yeah, and so that's what I think is one of the most concerning parts of the enforcement aspect of this is that they're taking a tool that has been designed for a navigational aid and a significant safety benefit and using it for enforcement. And the last thing we want people to do is to second guess themselves, turn that thing off and be like, it's just not worth the risk because it's not like these fines are like, you know,

Katie (54:23.646)
Stop using it. Mm-hmm. Nope. No.

John DePersenaire (54:31.192)
you know, $50 for like an undersized fish. I mean, these are, you know, pretty significant fines, upwards of $7,500 of violation. So it's not like it's insignificant.

Katie (54:38.199)
Yeah.

Katie (54:41.87)
Oh my gosh, so this kind of like makes me sick a little bit, but obviously we want people to follow the rules. We don't want cargo ships going 30 knots in a 10 knot zone, you know, for sure. But like in my personal experience, you guys like.

the AIS system in the central, in the Pacific, I know this isn't what we're talking about, but I'm just saying in the Pacific there's no shipping lanes. So it's a very, very essential safety tool that both you can see the ship and know where they're heading and what direction and what speed, especially when it's two in the morning and there's no moon. And they can also see where you are and your speed if you're underway or not. And I mean, you have to have AIS. And looking at

I don't have a lot of experience in the Northeast, but I do know that there is significant fog conditions and we already touched on the fact that there's like a lot of ship traffic and a lot of boat traffic because these are really big ports. And like John just said, I just have to reiterate this that no, we don't want vessels to be going too fast in these zones. But what we really do not want is for people, for humans to be turning off their AIS system

be a like a sea that's pushing you a little bit further because you're trying to get out of a storm, whatever it might be, and turning their AIS off and putting themselves at risk. So yeah, no, there's a that's a that's a big issue.

John DePersenaire (56:14.668)
Yeah, and so like for the Northeast in particular, you know, like, you know, New York is now considered the busiest port in the U S you know, and so you can imagine all the vessels, you know, coming in and out of that approach. And you're exactly right. I mean, like say you're out fishing and you're hooked up, you know, say you've got a giant on, you know, you, you want to have your AIS on because as those, those big container ships are trucking through and there's no, you know, there may not be any speed restrictions out there. I mean, they'd be going 26 knots. Like you want them to see you.

And so that's a really critical thing to keep our fleet safe. And the last thing we want is it to be used for something it wasn't intended to. And then people start to second guess that because they're concerned about enforcement or even just privacy issues. I mean, we're not considered a highly regulatory, highly regulated activity. And for some applications like the commercial shipping sector, yeah. I mean, that makes sense for them to be.

Katie (57:00.982)
Yeah.

John DePersenaire (57:13.136)
tracked and monitored. And I think it makes sense to use I.S. in that application for them. But like for the private citizen, it really doesn't. Like I think a lot of people will be upset if, you know, we just found out that like, say the FBI was tracking everyone's cell phone position. Like it's just, you know, we do have fourth amendment rights. Like you can't just have, you know, warrantless search, you know, and monitoring. Right. And so that's, this really comes into that element. You know, do our federal enforcement

Katie (57:32.432)
It's very 1984, big brother.

John DePersenaire (57:41.768)
agency is allowed to have access to that data without a warrant. I mean, that's a real serious privacy question that has to be answered, to be honest.

Katie (57:50.23)
Yeah.

and especially with you guys working on potential technological advances and uses for tech to help mitigate this situation. Just the fact that you guys are working hard to give a different solution, I think is exceptional. Now, already we know how it worked with proposing the rule. We know you guys built a task force and are continuing to try and find a better solution, continuing to be involved in the government, even though it's all behind closed doors.

And you told me the other day, I believe, that there is, you got involved a little bit with the small business office in the U.S. Can you tell me, I don't remember the lingo, I'm sorry, but can you tell me how that is a way to help benefit the situation as a whole despite the fact that you guys don't really have a say in what's going on the regulatory side?

John DePersenaire (58:44.512)
Yeah, so we had a roundtable discussion with the US Small Business Administration back in September of 2022. And it's really an interesting branch of the federal government. It's relatively small. But they have this one office, it's the advocate. And really what their charge is, is to make sure that small businesses in the country are not, you know,

inordinately impacted by federal regulations, right? Or at least that the impacts are known if they move forward with a decision on that. And so during that round table discussion, there was representatives from our sector, the recreational fishing and boating sector, the ports, pilots, fast ferries, even seaplanes. I think there was a representative for the seaplanes there.

So as you can imagine, it was everyone that had some stake or had some activity on the water that was important to them. And really what that ended up producing was a really strong letter from the Small Business Administration that was submitted to the federal record that pointed out that the industry was demonstrating that there were things that could have been considered in terms of reducing risk through technology.

but they weren't considered in the rule. And so that was a really powerful statement. And so as this rule now goes on to OIRA and reflecting back upon those two pathways that happened in parallel there, that interagency review is not open to the public, but the Small Business Administration is involved with that interagency review. So...

That is something where we have been sort of going back to them and providing them updated impacts. And so we've had some charter boat operators submit their statement, basically saying, I do X number of trips in this period of time. I sail from this port. This is what I charge for a trip. I'm a small business. I have four employees. I have two employees, whatever it is. And that's a real impact that the Small Business Administration, they can go back and

John DePersenaire (01:00:58.42)
submit that during the interagency review. So I think those are going to be really critical messages. And again, like the most important thing, I think, in this stage is bringing new information. The one thing that was hard about that public comment period, again, it was, it's hard to believe they're going to do it in 30 days, but even with 60 days, it was really hard to even get a lot of the economic impact information there, you know, and it just took more time for us to develop that and talk to the right people and get that all into place. So

This is a good opportunity for us to bring that new information to the table because I think it's really compelling and it's really critical that they know about these impacts before they make a decision on this rule.

Katie (01:01:41.49)
Yeah, well said. Perfect. I love it. Besides the task force and the US Small Business Administration... You're gonna have to forgive me on that. What other... Have you guys been doing anything else in all your time you have? Or... I'm just kidding.

John DePersenaire (01:01:53.477)
I'm so happy to say it.

John DePersenaire (01:01:59.556)
Well, yeah, I mean, so, you know, listen, members of Congress, I mean, they're always concerned about, you know, constituents and impacts to, you know, their, their states and their districts that they represent. So this is a time where, yeah, if you ever thought about, if you thought more about how this would impact you, your business, your, maybe if it's even not a business, how it impacts your livelihood and your recreation, because that's a

important thing, you know, reaching out to your member of Congress, letting them know, that member of Congress can then relay that message also through the interagency review. So they're allowed to engage in that as well. So all these sort of things are important. And again, the message is not that the hell with the North Atlantic right whale, you know, let it just run its course. What we're saying is that let's figure out how to come up with a really reasonable

that acknowledges the needs of the industry, but also acknowledges that we have to do something for North Atlantic right wells. And we think there's that balance that can be struck there. And listen, we've, again, you've pointed out that task force several times. I mean, it's not just there on paper. We meet, we talk about this, we're doing pilot projects. The electronics folks are hard at work trying to figure out how this, get this all integrated onto a screen. So work is being done. It's not like we're just.

pushing this off and saying, you know, we just want to go fast. You know, we are trying to come up with alternatives here that make a lot of sense. And so that's really what our message is at this final stage is all about. You know, we are working towards something that's going to have benefits for both the industry and.

Katie (01:03:42.162)
100%. And not only that, but don't we feel like having a speed reduction zone for vessels 35 to 65 foot doesn't actually make a big difference on the right whales?

John DePersenaire (01:03:58.124)
Yeah, I mean, that's something that, yeah, we're not exactly sure it's going to have much benefit. This is one of the, you know, I talked about this earlier, but this is, again, it's all about reducing risk. And again, it's just a little bit of a foreign approach because, again, thinking back to fisheries, you know, we're typically given a status report of a stock, right? Say we're talking about bluefin tuna, for example.

know, and say, all right, this is the stock status. It seems like we have to reduce fishing mortality by 25%. This is what that 25% reduction is going to do to our overall domestic quota. This is how we're going to implement regulations to achieve that 25% reduction in quota. This is a little different in the sense that they say we need to reduce risk of vessel strikes. We don't disagree with that, but we're not giving a clear objective. And so from an incremental progress standpoint, how do you even know if you're

making progress. That's a real tricky thing. And so what was so interesting as we were trying to dive into the details to figure out a little bit more about this so we could help with our work and product development and all that sort of stuff, seeing if we're coming up with ideas that even had adequate effectiveness rates, what we found was that, what was so interesting is that in response to the 2008 Vessel Speed Rule, there was a reduction of vessel strikes.

but there was actually no, they were not able to correlate that to the rule. So it's a really interesting modeling exercise and one that doesn't quite make sense. It seems like we need to figure out what was driving. Maybe it was a Vessel Speed, because I mean, I know when I think about a big shipping container, I mean, if that thing's going 15 knots or 10 knots and it hits a whale, I mean, I don't think the outlook is much different, to be honest. So...

It just makes you really want to dive into the details and it really wants you to make sure that we're looking at this from a really comprehensive standpoint. Like we don't wanna just assume that risk from a 35 foot center console boat is detrimental to the stock. It may be and it may have a risk, but is that significant enough to take such significant action? Or are there other ways that we can go about?

John DePersenaire (01:06:20.204)
mitigating that risk. And I think that's really what we've been driving towards is getting to that level of detail and breaking apart vessels by their construction, their use, their operation, and really their overall risk profile, not just lumping them all into one category and saying we got to do something for all these boats.

Katie (01:06:24.152)
Yes.

Katie (01:06:40.758)
And in the story of the progression of tech, potential tech avoidance of these whales, that can be incorporated into these really big ships that if they're going 10-15 knots and hit a whale, the whale's not going to do well, but they can find a way to avoid it, which I think is, I think that's really, really cool. So no, yeah.

John DePersenaire (01:06:50.715)
Absolutely.

John DePersenaire (01:07:01.4)
Yeah. And Katie, I was going to say that's a really interesting point too, because again, I mentioned before that there's a lot of groups that are doing a ton of work on monitoring North Atlantic right whales. And one of the things that we foresee and one of the things that we're sort of working through with this task force is having vessels become detection assets. And so we know not all boats like a big container ship are going to end up Viking.

be honest, are going to have that same sort of suite of electronics up there. I mean, you know, we build a luxury product and they're really sophisticated. Right. And so from a scalability sense, that's not a likely option to think that every boat is going to have, you know, a $20,000 FLIR infrared camera on it. But what's really cool about the work that we're trying to do is that if a detection comes through, say a Viking.

Katie (01:07:34.158)
Mm-hmm.

Katie (01:07:46.123)
Right.

John DePersenaire (01:07:53.508)
there's ways that we can push that information off that boat, have it go to an aggregator, have that information pushed back out through the fleet, either through AIS or through internet connection. And so the entire fleet gets the benefit of one boat being highly sophisticated with its electronics package. So that's right. And so that's where we think AIS plays a really critical role in this, because as you know, I mean, that's coming through very high frequency radio signals.

Katie (01:08:10.666)
What a great use of AIS. Ha ha ha.

John DePersenaire (01:08:22.744)
widely used easy and cheap way of getting information out to voters, you know, and so that's something that we see again. We know not every boat is going to have the same capabilities as a big commercial vessel or even a Viking, and so the way we're looking at this is we want to have that benefit not just reside solely with the vessel that's really well outfitted. We want that benefit to go out to the entire fleet, and so that's one of the things we're really focused on.

Katie (01:08:27.703)
Mm-hmm.

Katie (01:08:50.134)
Well, how many, like, you might not know this off the top of your head, but roughly speaking, how many Vikings do you think you have up there in the Northeast? On the water.

John DePersenaire (01:09:01.068)
I don't know. I'm sure the sales department knows that. I don't know.

Katie (01:09:04.582)
It's a substantial amount you guys. Like the Viking industry up there is pretty exponential and most of these boats in the recreational fishing industry that are going out for offshore for highly migratory species are going to have this type of system. So this is a great example of how recreational anglers can actually really help protect the long-term sustainability of these large marine mammals that are critically endangered. So I think that is just too cool.

Um, yeah, well thank you. Finally.

John DePersenaire (01:09:34.776)
That's well said. Well said. And listen, Katie, that was one of the real key points I try to drive home to the workshop is that, you know, we're really an untapped resource right now. You know, like to think what we hold in terms of detection capacity is staggering. I mean, like you said, I mean, you know, you're just talking about Viking, but you think about the entire sport fish fleet, you start thinking about, you know, commercial ships. I mean, there is a vast untapped.

capacity there to really get a lot of good information on North Atlantic right whales, and to use that information to get it out to operators so they have much more informed, timely information that they can really figure out how to avoid this and reduce the risk. So I think that is something that we really need to drive home.

Katie (01:10:20.03)
I think that's...

Katie (01:10:23.506)
And for the listener that's wondering, well, will these people want to put that system in their boat? They will if it's going to help them be better fishermen. So the answer is it's a win-win, 100%. And as we already touched on, that's a very extremely well managed population up there in the Northeast. Like I'm very, I've fished in a lot of places around the world and I've been very impressed with the U.S. government's way of managing our HMS species.

John DePersenaire (01:10:33.54)
Yeah.

Katie (01:10:53.16)
So, John, I hate to cut us short, but we're getting low on time, but I just want to make sure for the listeners out there that want to be involved, you said write your local congressman. Do you have any other call to actions you'd like to add?

John DePersenaire (01:11:10.756)
Yeah, so the National Marine Manufacturers Association has a Boating United action alert up for this issue right now. So if you wanted to go ahead and reach out to your member of Congress, you go to Boating United and that'll give you all their information about your member, their contact information, makes it really easy with bullet points to kind of go through all these issues. And, you know, it just makes you a more effective constituent. So it's a great way of making it an easy way to reach out and, you know, give your voice to this issue.

Katie (01:11:39.614)
And you guys, we've linked that in the description below on this episode, so it's just one click and you're there. Feel free to go there and we'll see you out there. John, thank you so much for your time. I'm gonna cut it short. I really appreciate you sitting down with me and breaking down this situation. And I really appreciate all the work that you and your team have done to help protect our rights and also our Atlantic right whales. So thank you for your time. You guys, we'll be seeing you out there. And as always, don't stop chasing your wild.

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CONTACT YOUR LOCAL CONGRESSMAN:

https://www.boatingunited.org/take-action/congress-protect-boaters-speed-restrictions/?

Summary

In this conversation, Katie C. Sawyer and John DePersenaire discuss the proposed rule for the North Atlantic right whale situation and its implications for boaters and seaboard communities. They highlight the importance of speed for recreational fishermen and the economic impact of the proposed rule. They also emphasize the need for collaboration and the use of technology to address the issue. The regulatory process and timeline are also discussed. The conversation discusses the dual path process of rulemaking, with an interagency review and a public side. The role of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) is explained, along with the challenges of the public not being aware of any changes made to the rule. The formation and work of the Whale and Vessel Safety Task Force is highlighted. The current stage of the rule being in OIRA's hands is discussed, along with the strategy for the ongoing public comment period. The involvement of the Small Business Administration and the importance of a comprehensive approach are emphasized. The potential of recreational anglers as an untapped resource is mentioned, and a call to action is made to reach out to local congressmen and participate in the Boating United action alert.

Takeaways

  • The proposed rule for the North Atlantic right whale situation has significant implications for fishermen, including economic impact and access to fisheries.
  • Speed is essential for fishermen to reach fishing grounds and maximize their trips, and the proposed rule would greatly restrict their ability to do so.
  • Collaboration and the use of technology, such as artificial intelligence and marine electronics, can help reduce the risk of vessel strikes on whales.
  • The regulatory process for the proposed rule involves public comments and review by various agencies, with the final decision taking into account economic impacts and other factors. The rulemaking process involves both an interagency review and a public side, with the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) playing a key role.
  • The public is not made aware of any changes made to the rule during the interagency review, creating uncertainty.
  • The Whale and Vessel Safety Task Force is working on a comprehensive approach to reduce vessel strike risk and protect North Atlantic right whales.
  • The current stage of the rule is in OIRA's hands, and there is an ongoing public comment period.a
  • The involvement of the Small Business Administration and the need for a balanced approach that considers both industry needs and whale protection are important.
  • Recreational anglers have the potential to contribute valuable information and technology to mitigate the risk of vessel strikes.

Transcript

Katie (01:42.718)
What's up, you guys? Welcome to the Katie C. Sawyer podcast. I'm sitting down with John DePerson here today. John, tell us a little bit about yourself and who you are.

John DePersenaire (02:26.149)
Yeah, sure. Thank you, Katie. And thanks for having me on. So my name is John DePersonere and I'm the Director of Government Affairs.

So that's a really broad title and it really encompasses a lot of different aspects of my portfolio of work. So obviously things like regulatory issues, government affairs issues, things that have to do with either regulatory or legislation that impacts us as a manufacturer in the marine industry, but also how our customers use the boats. So like fisheries management, that's all really important part of that.

as well, but also then on the sustainability side, looking at things like efficiency, looking at our energy use, looking at our waste stream, all those sort of things, supporting efforts to support fish habitat and some other projects that we're doing. So it's a really broad scope of work and it's really, really interesting.

Katie (03:23.458)
That's awesome. That's a huge responsibility on your end. And like you said, broad. Before I started fishing, I was working, not even close, but I was working as director of environmental health and safety for an oil and gas company. And it's just like there's like this entire channel of products that you're supposed to manage. And you're like, I like this is so, so broad. But that's amazing. I'm really, really honored to be sitting with you here today. Thank you so much for giving your time. I really want to jump into what's going on.

on right now with the North Atlantic right whale situation and the proposed rule that was set forth in August of 2022 and how that's affected us and what we can see moving forward. So can you just give us a little bit of a status on what's going on with the right whales and what the what rule was proposed as a reaction of that?

John DePersenaire (04:17.536)
Yeah, so, you know, this is an issue the industry has really been following carefully for the past year and a half now. And as you said, you know, this proposed rule came out in August of 2022, and it was driven by NOAA. So NOAA has a an office within it's called the Office of Protective Resources. And their job is to carry out and implement.

the mandates of the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act. So with North Atlantic right whales, they are, there's no question that they are in pretty serious, dire concern in terms of a population size. And just, you know, recognizing the history of that species, it really was one of the targeted, most targeted species in commercial whaling for centuries, which really-

drove down the population, but also imposed some sort of ecological constraints, which just made it much harder to rebuild when commercial whaling stops. So like when you fish a, or not even fish, but when you hunt a population down that low, you start to have genetic issues. And we see that like with, you know, upland hunting and things like that, you try to manage for a strong gene stock. And so that was one of the constraints. So that like, you know, if you look at

reproductive output for North Atlantic right whales, it has been trailing off. And so it just makes it that much harder to rebuild. So they know the two main sources of mortality for North Atlantic right whales are entanglement with fishing gear, mostly lobster pots up in Massachusetts and North and also up in Canada where they spend their summers and vessel strikes. And so NOAA has been trying to...

up with management measures that addressed those two sources of mortality. And so the rule that came out in August, that was directed towards the latter, that was directed towards reducing risk of vessel strikes. And what that did was it expanded upon an existing rule that was in place starting in 2008. And what it did was it dropped the size class of vessel that would be subject to vessel speed rules. It expanded the areas that would be subject to the seasonal management areas.

John DePersenaire (06:39.036)
And it also expanded the vessels. So it dropped it down from 65 and above down to 35 feet and above. And so what that really did was originally the 2008 rule was really focused more on the ocean-going vessels, so like the container ships, the tankers, some of those really high displacement, high tonnage boats. It also captured some of the recreational fleet as well.

but the intent was really the bigger ocean growing vessels. And so this step now starts to bring in a massively different segment of the fleet now. And you're starting to bring in center consoles and a whole bunch of boats that have probably never even seen a North Atlantic right whale. And so this is all about reducing risk. And this is what is somewhat different than what we typically deal with fisheries management.

Katie, I know you're really versed on highly migratory species, you know, and so a lot of times we're dealing with, you know, quota setting and, you know, really specific percent reductions, trying to get to a sustainable biomass and things like that. So we can tailor regulations based on that percent reduction we have to achieve. This is a little bit more nebulous in the sense that we don't actually have that number that we need to reduce risk by. And so that's a really challenging thing.

for us to look at. And so we're just not versed in trying to figure out how we come up with a solution to that. And so when we first saw the rule, we're like, oh my God, this is gonna impact a vast number of boats. For a lot of people, it's gonna go into effect November 1st and last through the end of May. So those are really, really important times of year for up and down the coast now. I mean, as you know, like we have some of the best tuna fishing off of...

New York and New Jersey now in November and December, which is crazy to think, but I mean, it's just, those are no longer months when people have their boat out of the water and up on the hard for the winter. It's, you know, we're fishing all the way through January. And so that becomes a real, real big impact. Also guys that move their boats from say our area down to South Florida in the fall, you know, they're gonna be subject to this. And so what, you know, typically is a...

John DePersenaire (09:02.128)
know, two, three day trip now becomes something massively different when you're going 10 knots. And so there's all sort of implications that we have to think about in terms of impacts of this. But one of our biggest criticisms was obviously, you know, a recreational boat hitting a North Atlantic right whale is an extremely rare instance. In fact, we have some third party analysis that really shows that it is like that one in a million chance. I mean, that really is

numbers of boats and the numbers of strikes that are attributed to those boats under 65 feet. But the other thing that we were we were sort of upset about was that there was really no alternative in there that took into consideration technology, right? And so, you know, Katie, I know you've run boats for a long time and, you know, boats are constantly improving it. And so for,

you know, every time you come out with a new model, it's always safer than the last model. And that's just a function of, you know, engineering, design, improvements in marine electronics. And so safety is just one of those key elements when you're building boats, you know, safety, efficiency, performance, amenities are sort of like the top four things, right? And so a big part of safety is collision avoidance. Like, and we don't want to hit anything that's on the water. I mean, you know, like,

Katie (10:29.37)
I think what a lot of people don't understand is that a vessel between 35-65 foot, if it hits a whale, we know and there's gonna be damage. There's gonna be significant damage to the vessel and like you said, potentially the safety of the people on board. That's a really good point.

John DePersenaire (10:47.82)
Yeah, so I mean, the point is, is that, you know, this is a space that, you know, we and other builders and the whole marine industry are constantly working on. It's not like we just heard about this rule and like, now let's figure out something to do here to not hit whales. Like this is just something we do and not to put it in a in-person way, but a North Atlantic right whale is just another object in the water that we do not want to hit. And we have been developing products over these years that allows us not to hit them at a reduced rate. So.

We've been making progress on this and we were, it was unfortunate that there were no alternatives that kind of gave us credit for that or provided an opportunity to explore how technology can reduce risk. So, of course.

Katie (11:31.502)
I'm going to stop you right there before you go on because this is a great segue. The first thing I want to touch on is you said a couple things throughout that were interesting points. So from what I understand, correct me if I'm wrong, in 2008 there were speed reduction zones put in place in the Atlantic Northwest of the ocean, Atlantic Northwest, Northeast of the U.S. That always gets confusing for me. Where speed reduction zones for ships above 65 foot.

length. Is that correct?

John DePersenaire (12:03.6)
That is correct. And most of those areas were around sort of the entrances to major courts. So like the approach to New York Harbor, Delaware Bay, Chesapeake Bay, Cape Fear. Then there was also areas south of Cape Hatteras where there are seasonal nursing areas and calving areas. So like where the mother and the calf are spending a lot of time down there in the winter time. And they are vulnerable down there, there's no question.

Katie (12:29.118)
Yeah, for sure. And it's specific in areas where you see a lot of cargo ships coming through because it's significant to global trade and economy. Now, can you tell us a little bit about how, if there was any impact on our economy based on the speed reduction zones for vessels of that size?

John DePersenaire (12:49.304)
Yeah, I mean, you know, one thing that's been interesting about this rule is it sort of brought a lot of different sectors together that typically didn't work on, you know, issues together. And so one of those, well, a couple of those sectors were pilots, you know, fast ferries, the shipping interests, the ports, and, you know, so offshore wind, you know, they all have really big concerns and they...

speculate it's going to have implications not only for their operational needs, but also you think about just getting product to shelves. Does that impact supply chain issues? Does that impact availability of products? Does that impact cost to the consumer? So all those sort of things are playing into this and they certainly have implications that are not discrete to

recreational fishing and boating, this is something that would impact a significantly broad part of the maritime commerce in general.

Katie (13:56.398)
Mm-hmm.

But, okay, let's talk about how you said it's difficult, I believe, I think you said that it's difficult to quantify the population of whales right now. Do we know how long it takes for them to reproduce and they have how many, they have one pup, I think it's a pup, right, a whale? I'm not sure, one baby, a calf, that's right. A calf at a time, correct? And every now and then too, but like you were saying,

John DePersenaire (14:18.835)
Cheers.

Katie (14:27.912)
significantly decreased base to overfishing or over harvesting. So in the past, way years ago. So I just want to like really clear up the blurry areas of the last 15 years of regulation to help protect these Atlantic right whales. Is that what you said? Is it the population's difficult to quantify?

John DePersenaire (14:53.912)
Well, it's not typically challenging to quantify it. And in fact, North Atlantic right whales are probably one of the most studied and monitored large marine mammal populations in the world. I mean, that's a fact. What I think difficult is that, again, we're not seeing reproductive output that would sort of get us to that number that they believe it needs to be at to be considered sustainable.

And so, like, for example, I'm not a North Atlantic right whale biologist, so I don't know the exact numbers in terms of, you know, their gestation period and how, you know, their sort of calving cycle. But I do know from a management standpoint, the agency is sort of looking for 50 calves a year to, for many years to get the population to a sustainable level. And if you look at reproductive output over the past, you know, 10 years,

I don't think we've gotten to 50 once, you know. So it's sort of underperforming and there's a lot of reasons for that. You know, genetic issues are one, the population size is small, so it's harder for them to communicate and find the mates. You know, there's things happening with climate change and their food source, you know, they're really dependent on copepods and, you know, they're not sort of like a humpback that can, you know, switch from, you know, herring to bunker to, you know, anchovy, you know, like,

you know, they're really discreet feeders and they are really keyed in on copepods. And so their availability of copepods is somewhat changing and perhaps putting them in more areas where they're vulnerable to things like ship strikes. So there's a lot of challenges that are happening there.

Katie (16:37.45)
Yes, excellent answer. I love it. So what we're seeing is we're trying to, well, Noah put forth a rule, a proposed rule to try and limit the speed of vessels to help protect these whales, but there's lots of potential issues associated with that. Now you mentioned taking into...

Now, you mentioned taking into account technology. Can you go on that a little bit for me?

John DePersenaire (17:07.936)
Yeah, so, you know, and I think it's important, maybe your audience, it's not really important, but yeah, I know for some people involved with this issue, this is important, and they don't quite understand this, that for us, speed is an essential element of our boats, right? Not only is it, you know, safer, you know, to run a boat when it's, you know, operating at a, you know, at the most optimal speed.

But for us, we're not necessarily designed to be out in weather that a container ship can be out in. And so speed allows us to maximize on these weather windows of opportunity, right? And so if we are trying to get to fishing grounds and it takes us say two hours to get out there, we can conduct our trip and get back before that weather turns and makes it unsafe out there. If we are now forced to, you know,

to have that two hour trip now become six hours to get out to wherever those grounds are, that could put us in a unsafe situation or we just canceled the trip altogether because the weather window was not big enough. So speed is one of those things and just everything about our vessels is designed around performance, speed and range. And that's really the only way recreational guys can access the fisheries. I mean, we are not...

commercial fishermen where we can go out, you know, 10 days at a time and, you know, say goodbye to the family and say, Hey, I'm going marlin fishing. I'll be back in 10 days. Maybe some people can do that, but you know, it's a different, it's a different element for us, you know? And so speed is, is it's not something we can dismiss and say, well, you guys can just go slow and still carry on your way. Like it doesn't work that way. Speed is an essential element of our boats.

Katie (18:42.37)
Yeah.

Katie (18:54.002)
And why is it important for these fishermen to be able to get out to the fishing grounds instead of canceling their trip when there's weather? Like tell us about the economic benefits of that.

John DePersenaire (19:02.964)
Oh, I mean, yeah, I mean, so well, I mean, it's well, first of all, it's it drives a significant economic impact. I mean, so just from Viking standpoint, I mean, this is a really prime example. You know, we're the leader of the world leader in terms of building sport fish boats. You know, we produce the most in the world and our boats are really designed exactly to go far and fast and engage the highly migratory species. And so if you take away our ability to.

to go fast and access the fish that our boats are designed to do. I mean, the value of that goes down significantly, you know. And so, you know, we have over 2,000 employees that are just building boats to go fast and offshore. I mean, that's exactly what we have a workforce that's doing every day, you know, and that includes electronics folks and everything. So the impact is it just cannot be understated more. And I think what was so alarming in

Katie (19:49.055)
locally.

John DePersenaire (20:03.46)
the proposed rule in terms of the cost benefit analysis that NOAA put together, they did not understand that trips would be canceled and people wouldn't even take trips under a 10 knot limit. And so yeah, and this is the other thing that's really important. So it's not like these areas are going to be really, you know, discrete like they were in 2008 and they were around just, you know, entrances to inlets and ports and things like that.

know, in some cases, like in the Middle Atlantic, they're going offshore 90, 100 miles, you know, and so, you know, it's hard to imagine even going 20 or 30 miles at 10 knots in a recreational boat. I mean, it's just, it's hard to imagine that. And I just know that would just drive people not to do it. Their boats would come out, you know, December or October 31st, they wouldn't go back in until June 1st, and, you know, you're missing a massive amount of economic activity for that.

Katie (20:42.614)
No, it's...

John DePersenaire (20:57.268)
And also, I mean, you're really denying a lot of people access to fisheries. So, you know, I know you're a big, you know, HMS fisherman. And so that's one of those fisheries where only the public can only access that through a boat. Like, so the HMS permit that everyone gets that goes out in Marlin and tuna fishes, you know, that's assigned to a vessel. It's not like you can fish for them from shore. It's just illegal to do that, quite frankly, which is an interesting discussion all in itself. But.

Katie (20:57.364)
Yeah.

Katie (21:21.751)
Yeah.

John DePersenaire (21:25.42)
So you have to go out on either your own boat, your friend's boat, a charter boat, a headboat, you know? And so when you start to think about how this would impact those boats, you almost become, it almost becomes an obstacle for the public to access those fisheries, which are really economically valuable, sustainably managed and really good eating, you know, for some of them, not marlin, of course.

Katie (21:47.074)
Mm-hmm. Yep. No. Yeah.

John DePersenaire (21:50.36)
But you know what I mean, so it becomes this impediment for the public to access a well-managed resource. And I think that's like a really unintended consequence that they didn't quite think about when they put this into place.

Katie (22:02.166)
Right, definitely. Because, I mean, it's not just, like you said, it's not just all the jobs that would be at risk at Viking. It's all of these seaboard communities that depend on the tourism, that depend on people wanting to go offshore and go fishing recreationally. Didn't you tell me, John, that you did a impact study on one specific operation and the amount of economic loss that company would had was just exponential? What was that?

John DePersenaire (22:30.188)
Yeah, so that's a tour boat captain out of North Jersey. And his specialty is getting folks out, particularly in the fall, to chase striped bass and tuna. And he's built a great business on that. He's got several captains, quite a few mates. He's got three boats. And just looking at his operation between the times that this rule would be in effect between November 1st and the end of May.

He was looking at losing 70 trips. And so that was roughly working out to $140,000 a year, just for him. And it's not just him as the owner operator, but his mates, the other captains that run that boat, the people that detail and service his boat, the people he buys the bait from. It's just that you talked about, yeah, the marina where, I mean, all that shoreside infrastructure that supports the recreational fishery and commercial fishery would be impacted.

Katie (23:09.567)
Yeah.

Katie (23:17.226)
The Marina. All the support.

Katie (23:28.09)
Yeah. And then you have situations like, for example, the White Marlin Open in Ocean City, where I mean, it's not really in the zone, but you have I'm sorry, not really in the time frame, but you have so many people coming to these communities and it's quantifiable millions of dollars being brought into these communities just so that people can be a part of the recreational fishing sector. Like, I mean, that's crazy. That's crazy to me. Hotels, restaurants, all of that

Katie (23:57.904)
really big in the northeast. So I find that interesting. I'd like to also touch a little bit on how we have...

there seems to be like a big disconnect between what people are, how some people are dubbed environmentalists. It's kind of like a like a bad word sometimes in our industry, which is strange because in my mind, like I'm an environmentalist 100%. I have a master's degree in environmental science, you know, like I, I'm an environmentalist, but I love the ocean. I'm also a fisherman. And I think that there's like this stipulation between the parties

other every single time. And for example, I think that a lot of people think that fishermen aren't conservationists, that fishermen don't love the ocean, but we're the ones that are spending our lives out on the ocean that want to share that with other people. And I think it's important to really highlight the fact that a lot of times you'll see polarization between the parties, but that involving different stakeholders is really important in making educated good

benefit of the whale population. You touched on how this has brought together a lot of different stakeholders. Can you tell me a little bit more about that?

John DePersenaire (25:18.348)
Yeah, and that's a really good perspective. And so, you know, one of the things that when we saw the rule come out and sort of analyzed it, and, you know, we obviously knew it was gonna have impacts from an economic standpoint and an access standpoint. But we also knew that there was other ways of addressing this. Like, we just feel like we're too smart of an industry not to come up with another way of, or providing another tool to help with this issue.

And so what we did was we pulled together a task force of experts in various different fields, from marine electronics to analyzing very high resolution satellite to artificial intelligence, processing thermal imagery and visual imagery, forward-facing sonar, modelers that work on crime analysis, but they can see an application here for

managing whales, even friends at like, you know, ROFs, which, you know, I know a lot of your listeners are really familiar with, you know, they have a really interesting approach that, you know, they analyze sea conditions looking for marlin and tuna, but that same application can be used to figure out where we may want to focus management efforts for North Atlantic right whale. So all of this gives us the ability to start to think about how we could more...

Katie (26:36.45)
So cool.

John DePersenaire (26:43.3)
dynamically manage this and also have more nuanced approaches that are consistent with what we see in terms of differences of risk across vessel classes. So like what we may want to see for say an ocean going vessel, like a container ship, may not be the best approach for what we see on a 35 foot center console. You know, there's just the attributes of those vessels. It's just vastly different.

there's safety concerns that, say the center console can take a base of action, whereas a container ship just, they're not at liberty to take action or slow down or any of those things. So the idea of this task force was really to look at ways that we could start to think about it on that more nuanced level. And also a big part of that was really putting an aggressive thought towards leveraging technology. And again, I...

spoke before about how we're always building a safer boat every day. It's not like we build a less safe boat tomorrow. We're just constantly improving upon that. But what's really interesting about the task force is that we've put this really aggressive focus on marine mammals. So we've always been trying to avoid anything that's in the water. And now we've just sort of thought about how we can be more.

narrowly focused to speed up acceleration for marine mammals. So for instance, we did a pilot project last December off the coast of New Jersey and we affixed, you know, so Viking, Atlantic Marine Electronics, working with a company, you know, so we put a FLIR on top of a commercial fishing boat out of Barnegotte Light, you know, and FLIR is something you're familiar with, you know, a lot of our boats have that, you know, it's nothing new, right? And so what was really

knew about this was that the FLIR feed was being processed real time by an artificial intelligence algorithm. So it was able to, as that feed was coming in, it was able to classify a whale spout, you know, so its breath, it could pick that up, and also its body. And so it was a really fascinating exercise to see what is possible. And it wasn't perfect.

John DePersenaire (29:04.056)
But as you know, with AI, it's just, the training is what makes it so good. So the more these things are used, the more data we can throw at them. That's what's really going to spark this innovation. That's what's really going to accelerate this process. And I think what's so interesting about that is that it's coming from the private sector. So you talked about environmentalists. It's, I'm not dismissing any other industry, but we're really at the forefront of trying to find.

pathways here to reduce our risk of hitting whales. And that's a really important thing. So one of the things that the task force asked for, you know, over a year and a half ago was for NOAA to convene a workshop and to pull all these various stakeholders together, you know, and figure out how we can collaborate. You know, what are people working on in all these different buckets that have to sort of be addressed and come together to create this overall bigger risk reduction approach.

And so that workshop was finally convened last week. And I think it demonstrated a couple of things. First of all, I think it demonstrated that we are sincere. We're here to work. We're not starting from zero. And we've been focusing on this over the past 12 months. The other, I think, really important thing was that we're open to working with anyone. So this is sort of separate from the vessel speed rule in the sense that

we're committing long term to doing our part in this issue. And so we are willing to work with anyone. If anyone has a project that they've been working on that has some relevance for this and there's some ability to assist or support what they're doing or bringing them on. And we can provide vessel time on one of our demo boats or something like that. We are open to working through this solution in good faith. And that's something I think was, I think our industry really demonstrated that.

commitment to this and I was very impressed and really I was quite proud, you know, to show us, you know, the garments, the Navico's, the, you know, the fathoms, the roffs of the world to show up and say, yeah, what can we do? You know, let's roll up our sleeves. Let's think about this as a problem that we can all collectively contribute to and make some real progress towards. So it was great to see that.

Katie (31:18.766)
Yeah.

That's awesome. I love, I got chicken skin. That's super cool. Um, congratulations. Can you give us like a timeline breakdown? A little idea on the regulatory side, how it looks, because this is where things get a little blurry for me, if I'm being honest. But the regulatory side, how it looks, you, um, they, they proposed a rule. Then the Whale and Vessel Safety Task Force, that's what it's called, right? That's the name for it? Was assembled. And tell me a little bit about the timeline.

that has ensued since the rule was proposed and what has gone on y'all's end and on the government end.

John DePersenaire (31:58.124)
Okay, yeah, so like you said, the rule was introduced in August of 2022, and it's following, it's moving forward with the traditional federal rulemaking process. So it was open for public comments for, originally it was open for 30 days, believe it or not. And so one of the first things we did, I think the next day or the day after that, Viking put in a request for an extension for the public comment period, because we just.

I mean, we knew immediately that this was the most consequential regulation that was ever going to impact our industry.

Katie (32:32.35)
I mean it's crazy. You already touched on the fact that like 10 knots is so slow. You guys, 10 knots you get like approximately 10 miles in one hour. That is so slow. That's what we go at night when we can't see anything.

John DePersenaire (32:37.448)
Right.

John DePersenaire (32:43.02)
Yeah. Right.

Right. And so we knew we needed more time. So we put that request in. We got another 30 days. So the comment period was open for a total of 60 days. And so there was over 90,000 comments that were submitted from various interest groups. And we're very passionate about this issue, but there's also that other side that are very passionate about whale conservation, and rightfully

John DePersenaire (33:17.368)
we agree that we need to do something to help them. Absolutely we do. And so when that comment period closes, Noah is then charged with reviewing all those comments and responding to them. Not necessarily each individual comment per se, but the general themes of the comments. So there could have been say, 5,000 comments that were all sort of geared in one direction or.

there may be 10,000 comments that came from an action alert or something like that. So they can respond to them as an aggregate, not necessarily each individual one. And so they look at those comments and they take them into consideration and they think about how they could perhaps modify the regulation. And so they can do a couple of things. They can, they can make modifications in response to those comments where they can do nothing and move forward with it. And so that's something that the public is not aware.

And when, yeah, and so when federal rulemaking is taking place, in fact, the agency charged with putting forward that rule typically has, you know, is not able to talk about specifics in terms of modifications to what they may be considering or may have done in that rule. So it's sort of an unknown how this is sort of playing out. And so, but.

Katie (34:13.95)
It's behind closed doors.

John DePersenaire (34:37.44)
it has taken a much longer time. So originally when the rule came out in 2022, there was this sense, again, I talked about that really short public comment period, 30 days, but there was also this thought that they wanted to hurry this up and have it in place by November of 2022. And so we were like, oh my God, how can this dig? And so that was sort of the timeframe that the agency was initially pushing. And so as you can see, that's been

Katie (34:55.77)
Oh my gosh. Ah!

John DePersenaire (35:07.068)
significantly, significantly extended and not just because of the impacts to, you know, again, going back not to the impacts just to us, you're talking about, you know, national economy wide sort of impacts that have to be considered. And it wasn't just us that were submitting comments with concerns, it was the ports, it was the pilot associations, it was the shipping interests, it was the ferries, it was a whole host of people that make a living or their businesses tied to

moving on the oceans. So it's a big deal. And so, so as you can see, we're much farther along than the original timeframe that no one wanted to get this done by. And so now we've just transitioned into this final step. And so some of you may have seen the first week of March, the rule went from the Department of Commerce, it went to a small office within the White House. It's called the

Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. And that's sort of this final analysis where they look at all the work that NOAA has done in developing the rule. They look at their cost benefit analysis, their modeling exercises, how they are looking at risk reduction, what alternatives they've put forward, the economic impacts. So they look at sort of all of that. And they also, even though they're not necessarily a political branch, they look at sort of the

of the White House, they also try to mesh up what this rule could do in terms of some of the priorities of the administration. So, you know, things like, you know, how will this impact American jobs? How would it impact domestic manufacturing? How would this impact inflation? How would this impact supply chain issues? All sort of things that we've been talking about over the past few years. So that could come into play in this, because of course, when...

Katie (36:55.158)
macroscopic view.

John DePersenaire (37:01.46)
no one in the Office of Protected Resources put forward a rule, they're not necessarily in the position where they have to give so much weight to some of those bigger sort of impacts. They're really just, again, their mandate is really to put forward measures that seek to protect and rebuild an endangered species. And that's, so this sort of all comes together at this final stage. And there are opportunities for the public to weigh in.

There's also opportunities for, you know, members of Congress and other people to weigh in this process. It's sort of a dual path project that happened in parallel. One is an interagency review, which is not open to the public. So that's where this office of OIRA will reach out to, say, Interior or Commerce, all these different departments within the federal government, and ask about their input and thoughts on the rule and how it would impact the

the issues and the stakeholders that they're charged with dealing with. And then also there's this public side. So the members of the public actually can request a meeting with OIRA and then the final stage.

Katie (38:12.882)
OIRA is Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. And so when the rule got pushed to OIRA or given to OIRA, did it then become public knowledge or is it still all behind closed doors? We don't know what's going on after the comment period.

John DePersenaire (38:17.68)
That's right.

John DePersenaire (38:29.26)
Yeah, yeah, yeah. And that's what's so challenging about this. Again, I said there is an opportunity for the public to weigh in and have a meeting, but when the rule advances, the public is not made aware if any changes have been made. So we understand that some changes were in consideration, but we don't know specifics or if they address all of our concerns. We have no idea.

Katie (38:54.818)
from that public comment period, way at the beginning. Wow, so all this time, it's been behind closed doors. We have no idea what's being discussed or if there have been any changes being made. We can speculate on what's being discussed, but if there have been any changes being made, and then it gets pushed over to OIRA, we still don't know, but there is an opening for public comment. When is that opening for public comment? Has it already happened?

John DePersenaire (38:57.296)
Correct. Yes.

John DePersenaire (39:21.912)
So it starts when the rule is forwarded to OIRA. So it's open now as of the odds of March. And we don't know exactly when that closes. So there's a bit of uncertainty in the speed at which a rule can stay or advance out of OIRA. And there's a couple different things that could happen here. One, OIRA could review this and say there are concerns. And

we need to go back and come up with different, or not different, but add different alternatives, or add new ways of dealing with this issue. So thinking back to the original rule that came out, there was a whole bunch of support documentation that was with that. And one of those was the draft environmental assessment. And in that assessment, it included five different alternatives.

but all of them were exclusively focused on vessel speed. There was no consideration of technology or any other ways of reducing risk of vessel strikes. And so one thing that could happen is that OIRA looks at this and says, the economic impacts are significant enough that we want to send this back to NOAA for them to consider alternatives that could utilize existing technology or technologies that could be developed.

to help with this issue of reducing risk. So that's a pathway that could be beneficial for us, or it could just move forward as written. Again, we don't know exactly how it's been rewritten, but it could just move forward and become final.

Katie (41:00.13)
So tell me how the building or the assembling of the Whale and Vessel Safety Task Force has played a role in this process.

John DePersenaire (41:15.168)
Yeah, it's been a really interesting, and I'm so grateful to the members who agreed to sit on that task force, because I think it's unprecedented in the sense that we've seen such a diverse field of experts really sit down and commit to working on this. So the task force is just a, basically it's a think tank, you know?

But it has all the key elements, right? So, you know, obviously we're looking at things like detection. We're thinking about how detection information makes it out to the fleet. You know, how that one, you know, how we want that to display on someone's multifunction display. We're thinking about how we can better model. So we're thinking about this in a really holistic way. And we're trying to address all these different sort of puzzle pieces that have to come together.

to ultimately get information out to operators. Because that's a huge part of this and something that is just so, it's just missing from the current approach is that if we can get information out to operators, information that's timely and relevant, there is a significant benefit in that. And as you know, as an operator, like, you know, you don't wanna be bombarded with information that's not relevant, right? You know, because the last thing you want is,

Katie (42:41.358)
Oh god no.

John DePersenaire (42:43.076)
being, you know, having all these alerts going off, because after three or four, you're like, oh, that was for, you know, an area 100 miles south of me. Like you're going to turn it off or silence it, you know? And so one of the big things that we really have to focus on is getting the most relevant, important information out to operators when they're in an area where they need to get that information. And that's a key element that this task force and what the industry is working on. So as you know, like,

Katie (42:47.85)
Mm-hmm, you get me. Yeah.

John DePersenaire (43:11.056)
There is a ton of research institutions out there that have been doing incredible work on North Atlantic right whales and marine mammals in general, like just experts. Awesome, they do such good work. But that information and that work has not much use for us in its present form. There has to be this connection to the marine industry to bring it all together and then to have a positive response. And that's ultimately what we're trying to do. We're trying to give...

operators information so they can make decisions about their trips and also how they can make decisions about reducing risk of hitting wells, right? And so that is the real critical element where the task force and our industry plays a role that sort of no one else can. Like we have to be at the table if we want to see this complete solution, so to speak, come together.

Katie (43:49.196)
Right.

Katie (44:04.826)
Yes, okay, I love it. So not only has it been, has since the public comment period has been behind closed, I'm sorry. So not only has everything been behind closed doors since the initial public comment period, but this task force has been assembling. And didn't you guys push to have a NOAA representative sit aboard the task force so that they can know what's going on?

John DePersenaire (44:31.904)
Yeah, no, and it's been a great asset for us and I think for Noah as well. So we meet with that liaison once a month. And you know, I think that's a great

It's a great commitment showing that they're willing to engage with us and share information. And one of the things from this workshop that we're really keen on doing is continuing that sense of collaboration that we saw during the workshop. I mean, I think the majority of people went into that really with, you know, this willingness to sit and talk with anyone and really figure out how we can work together on this issue. And so

That's something we really want to continue with NOAA moving forward. You know, again, we may have concerns with the rule, but we're in complete agreement that we want to reduce vessel strike risk. So we are in parallel with them on that effort if they're willing to work with us. And everything we've seen so far since the workshop has been great. And we want to continue that type of synergy that we think is really essential for this type of problem.

Katie (45:40.758)
Well, on behalf of the industry, I think it's absolutely incredible that you guys have not only like just sat back after public comment period, but taken all this initiative to, like you said, take a holistic approach on the issue and to come forth and provide a solution and to fight to make sure that no one knows exactly what's going on and to have a liaison there. I think that's awesome. So the rule right now is in OI-Rez hands. Is that is that correct?

John DePersenaire (46:09.764)
That's correct.

Katie (46:10.672)
So you mentioned there's another opportunity for public comment, which is happening right now. But you don't know what's being discussed in the rule or what's being proposed moving forward or what Oryrus is exactly seeing. So what's your strategy going into this public comment period? Because you can't say what you said in the initial one because that's just a waste of time, right? So what's your mindset there? Like how are we looking at that?

John DePersenaire (46:39.372)
Yeah, so.

Our strategy going into this is, again, we don't know what the rule is, but I mean, I think from Viking's, I'm just going to speak just from Viking standpoint, you know, we have, you know, just over 20 different models of boats. All of them are over 35 feet, except for three. So I mean, the impact to us is really, really significant. And even if they were to say, increase that minimum threshold from 35 up to 40, it really doesn't do much.

for us. So our argument really has not changed even if say the rule has changed as it's progressed on to O'Rei-Ry. And again, we're just speculating. We don't know exactly what they've done to that rule. But there's really a couple of things that we are going to bring to those meetings and how we're going to try to address this. There still are really significant modeling flaws. So this is something we talked about early on.

Katie is that, you know, the way no one looks at vessels and the risk is associated with that vessel. Originally, it was those 35 foot and up all had the same sort of characteristics, right? So you think about displacement and draft depth, you know, they are just vastly different between a Panama X container ship and a 35 foot center console. And so one of the big criticisms is like, you know, if you're going to model risk, I mean,

come to us, get the data, we can show you what a 35 foot center console drafts, right? And what it does at 10 knots and actually how that draft actually to step tall, it starts to decrease as you get up on plane. So we can show you all of that. And we don't think that they've taken enough steps to get to that level of specificity that would make sense from a management standpoint. So we still think that they are vastly, vastly.

Katie (48:12.715)
Open book.

John DePersenaire (48:35.936)
inflating risk of recreational boats because they haven't, at least as far as I know, they have not come to any of the manufacturers to get those vessel specs, which would be critical to put into that risk encounter model, which is driving a lot of this. So that's something we will continue to point out. The other thing is that we sort of do now have real impacts. So we've had a few orders that have not gone through because of the vessel speed rule. So...

no longer is this theoretical in terms of what it could do to an industry like recreational fishing and boating or a boat builder like flaking. We now have demonstrable impacts and it's not just us and our workforce. You know, for that boat in particular that was canceled, you know, there's 28 different suppliers that we go to from engines to stabilization to electronics packages to...

know, riggers, rott holders, coolers, fish box appliances, like the list is significant, you know. So again, we can start to demonstrate that their cost benefit analysis, which put this at three, roughly $3,000 per vessel per year, was just vastly underestimated because we now have, you know, we now have one example where we can just say, we can walk through, you know, the spec sheet, the bill sheet for that boat and say like,

Katie (49:47.227)
Oh my gosh.

John DePersenaire (49:59.512)
what we had to go back to those people and say, this order is not going through now, we're gonna need to cancel this PO. And so, and also wrapped up in that boat was roughly 13,000 labor hours. So that's a big hit for a workforce that is here to build boats. So that's really what we're going into, but obviously other groups will be going in talking about the safety aspects, talking about the privacy aspects, knowing that AIS, a safety tool.

is now being used for enforcement. And that's a huge concern. Talking about just the public's access to the resources, you know, these well-managed fisheries, which we've worked all so hard to get rebuilt and well-managed, and now all of a sudden, we're not going to have access to them for up to seven months out of the year. So those are all key issues that, you know, we are going to be going into this OIRA phase really trying to drive home. And of course, you know, small businesses will be weighing in as well. The ferries, the charterboat guys that, you know,

can demonstrate lost trips during these periods of time. All that is really, really critical in this stage.

Katie (51:06.914)
I want to ask you about the small business and the inter, I don't remember the lingo, but the intergovernment relations or branches. We'll get to that. But first I would like for you to tell me, please tell me a little bit about how they're proposing for AIS to be used for surveillance and why that's an issue. Tell us what AIS is. Start from the beginning.

John DePersenaire (51:27.488)
Yeah, so that is it. Yeah, so AIS is Automatic Information System. And so the easiest way to think about AIS is almost like air traffic control. So when you pull up like flight aware, you can see the flight number, all the aspects about that plane, what its heading is. And we have something very similar on the marine side. And the rules for vessels that are required to carry AIS

generally broken down into two classes. One is class A, those are vessels that are over 65 foot and engaged in commercial activities. So they have both receiving and transmitting AIS. And what that means is that they are sending out a signal that gives it's, you know, the vessel's identification, what its classification is, its heading and its speed, I believe, and also its position. So you can...

Katie (52:18.89)
Yeah, speed, length, and bear, yeah.

John DePersenaire (52:22.028)
So, right, so if you pull up something like marine traffic, you can actually see where all those big MERSC ships are, are going and all the tugs and tows are going because that's a really important thing to know. Like if you go out and fish for, you know, giants in the mud hole and spring fog, you really want to know those boats are coming, right? So it's a huge safety tool. Boats that are under 65 feet or non-class A vessels include a lot of like, you know, Vikings and sport fish boats. And they're typically,

Katie (52:40.096)
Yeah, definitely.

John DePersenaire (52:52.044)
receive only. So they get the benefit of receiving that AIS signal, but they don't have to transmit their information. And so what's been happening over the past few years is that NOAA enforcement has been going into these data sets of AIS data and they've been retrospectively investigating boats and seeing where they may have exceeded some of the existing, again, remember,

going back to 2008, there have been some areas that have been placed since then for both 65 foot and bigger. And what they've done is they've gone back and figured out, just calculated if they exceeded the speed limits. In a lot of cases, it's not even like, you know, it's a 10 knots. Two years. Yeah. Or, and in cases, some cases it's like, you know, not even like, you know, they're going 40 miles an hour in this, you know, 10 knot zone. They're going like 13 knots, like something that

Katie (53:34.89)
It's not even real time. It's like going back and looking and then...

John DePersenaire (53:49.396)
And you know, running boats, like depending on the sea, you can be, you can be going between bouncing between eight and 12 a lot of times, right? Even if you're just trying to spend the tide or you're navigating an inlet. And so.

Katie (53:50.882)
with the current, yeah.

Katie (53:55.534)
12. Yeah? Mm-hmm.

Katie (54:01.226)
especially when you're looking at a ship of that magnitude and size.

John DePersenaire (54:04.14)
Yeah, and so that's what I think is one of the most concerning parts of the enforcement aspect of this is that they're taking a tool that has been designed for a navigational aid and a significant safety benefit and using it for enforcement. And the last thing we want people to do is to second guess themselves, turn that thing off and be like, it's just not worth the risk because it's not like these fines are like, you know,

Katie (54:23.646)
Stop using it. Mm-hmm. Nope. No.

John DePersenaire (54:31.192)
you know, $50 for like an undersized fish. I mean, these are, you know, pretty significant fines, upwards of $7,500 of violation. So it's not like it's insignificant.

Katie (54:38.199)
Yeah.

Katie (54:41.87)
Oh my gosh, so this kind of like makes me sick a little bit, but obviously we want people to follow the rules. We don't want cargo ships going 30 knots in a 10 knot zone, you know, for sure. But like in my personal experience, you guys like.

the AIS system in the central, in the Pacific, I know this isn't what we're talking about, but I'm just saying in the Pacific there's no shipping lanes. So it's a very, very essential safety tool that both you can see the ship and know where they're heading and what direction and what speed, especially when it's two in the morning and there's no moon. And they can also see where you are and your speed if you're underway or not. And I mean, you have to have AIS. And looking at

I don't have a lot of experience in the Northeast, but I do know that there is significant fog conditions and we already touched on the fact that there's like a lot of ship traffic and a lot of boat traffic because these are really big ports. And like John just said, I just have to reiterate this that no, we don't want vessels to be going too fast in these zones. But what we really do not want is for people, for humans to be turning off their AIS system

be a like a sea that's pushing you a little bit further because you're trying to get out of a storm, whatever it might be, and turning their AIS off and putting themselves at risk. So yeah, no, there's a that's a that's a big issue.

John DePersenaire (56:14.668)
Yeah, and so like for the Northeast in particular, you know, like, you know, New York is now considered the busiest port in the U S you know, and so you can imagine all the vessels, you know, coming in and out of that approach. And you're exactly right. I mean, like say you're out fishing and you're hooked up, you know, say you've got a giant on, you know, you, you want to have your AIS on because as those, those big container ships are trucking through and there's no, you know, there may not be any speed restrictions out there. I mean, they'd be going 26 knots. Like you want them to see you.

And so that's a really critical thing to keep our fleet safe. And the last thing we want is it to be used for something it wasn't intended to. And then people start to second guess that because they're concerned about enforcement or even just privacy issues. I mean, we're not considered a highly regulatory, highly regulated activity. And for some applications like the commercial shipping sector, yeah. I mean, that makes sense for them to be.

Katie (57:00.982)
Yeah.

John DePersenaire (57:13.136)
tracked and monitored. And I think it makes sense to use I.S. in that application for them. But like for the private citizen, it really doesn't. Like I think a lot of people will be upset if, you know, we just found out that like, say the FBI was tracking everyone's cell phone position. Like it's just, you know, we do have fourth amendment rights. Like you can't just have, you know, warrantless search, you know, and monitoring. Right. And so that's, this really comes into that element. You know, do our federal enforcement

Katie (57:32.432)
It's very 1984, big brother.

John DePersenaire (57:41.768)
agency is allowed to have access to that data without a warrant. I mean, that's a real serious privacy question that has to be answered, to be honest.

Katie (57:50.23)
Yeah.

and especially with you guys working on potential technological advances and uses for tech to help mitigate this situation. Just the fact that you guys are working hard to give a different solution, I think is exceptional. Now, already we know how it worked with proposing the rule. We know you guys built a task force and are continuing to try and find a better solution, continuing to be involved in the government, even though it's all behind closed doors.

And you told me the other day, I believe, that there is, you got involved a little bit with the small business office in the U.S. Can you tell me, I don't remember the lingo, I'm sorry, but can you tell me how that is a way to help benefit the situation as a whole despite the fact that you guys don't really have a say in what's going on the regulatory side?

John DePersenaire (58:44.512)
Yeah, so we had a roundtable discussion with the US Small Business Administration back in September of 2022. And it's really an interesting branch of the federal government. It's relatively small. But they have this one office, it's the advocate. And really what their charge is, is to make sure that small businesses in the country are not, you know,

inordinately impacted by federal regulations, right? Or at least that the impacts are known if they move forward with a decision on that. And so during that round table discussion, there was representatives from our sector, the recreational fishing and boating sector, the ports, pilots, fast ferries, even seaplanes. I think there was a representative for the seaplanes there.

So as you can imagine, it was everyone that had some stake or had some activity on the water that was important to them. And really what that ended up producing was a really strong letter from the Small Business Administration that was submitted to the federal record that pointed out that the industry was demonstrating that there were things that could have been considered in terms of reducing risk through technology.

but they weren't considered in the rule. And so that was a really powerful statement. And so as this rule now goes on to OIRA and reflecting back upon those two pathways that happened in parallel there, that interagency review is not open to the public, but the Small Business Administration is involved with that interagency review. So...

That is something where we have been sort of going back to them and providing them updated impacts. And so we've had some charter boat operators submit their statement, basically saying, I do X number of trips in this period of time. I sail from this port. This is what I charge for a trip. I'm a small business. I have four employees. I have two employees, whatever it is. And that's a real impact that the Small Business Administration, they can go back and

John DePersenaire (01:00:58.42)
submit that during the interagency review. So I think those are going to be really critical messages. And again, like the most important thing, I think, in this stage is bringing new information. The one thing that was hard about that public comment period, again, it was, it's hard to believe they're going to do it in 30 days, but even with 60 days, it was really hard to even get a lot of the economic impact information there, you know, and it just took more time for us to develop that and talk to the right people and get that all into place. So

This is a good opportunity for us to bring that new information to the table because I think it's really compelling and it's really critical that they know about these impacts before they make a decision on this rule.

Katie (01:01:41.49)
Yeah, well said. Perfect. I love it. Besides the task force and the US Small Business Administration... You're gonna have to forgive me on that. What other... Have you guys been doing anything else in all your time you have? Or... I'm just kidding.

John DePersenaire (01:01:53.477)
I'm so happy to say it.

John DePersenaire (01:01:59.556)
Well, yeah, I mean, so, you know, listen, members of Congress, I mean, they're always concerned about, you know, constituents and impacts to, you know, their, their states and their districts that they represent. So this is a time where, yeah, if you ever thought about, if you thought more about how this would impact you, your business, your, maybe if it's even not a business, how it impacts your livelihood and your recreation, because that's a

important thing, you know, reaching out to your member of Congress, letting them know, that member of Congress can then relay that message also through the interagency review. So they're allowed to engage in that as well. So all these sort of things are important. And again, the message is not that the hell with the North Atlantic right whale, you know, let it just run its course. What we're saying is that let's figure out how to come up with a really reasonable

that acknowledges the needs of the industry, but also acknowledges that we have to do something for North Atlantic right wells. And we think there's that balance that can be struck there. And listen, we've, again, you've pointed out that task force several times. I mean, it's not just there on paper. We meet, we talk about this, we're doing pilot projects. The electronics folks are hard at work trying to figure out how this, get this all integrated onto a screen. So work is being done. It's not like we're just.

pushing this off and saying, you know, we just want to go fast. You know, we are trying to come up with alternatives here that make a lot of sense. And so that's really what our message is at this final stage is all about. You know, we are working towards something that's going to have benefits for both the industry and.

Katie (01:03:42.162)
100%. And not only that, but don't we feel like having a speed reduction zone for vessels 35 to 65 foot doesn't actually make a big difference on the right whales?

John DePersenaire (01:03:58.124)
Yeah, I mean, that's something that, yeah, we're not exactly sure it's going to have much benefit. This is one of the, you know, I talked about this earlier, but this is, again, it's all about reducing risk. And again, it's just a little bit of a foreign approach because, again, thinking back to fisheries, you know, we're typically given a status report of a stock, right? Say we're talking about bluefin tuna, for example.

know, and say, all right, this is the stock status. It seems like we have to reduce fishing mortality by 25%. This is what that 25% reduction is going to do to our overall domestic quota. This is how we're going to implement regulations to achieve that 25% reduction in quota. This is a little different in the sense that they say we need to reduce risk of vessel strikes. We don't disagree with that, but we're not giving a clear objective. And so from an incremental progress standpoint, how do you even know if you're

making progress. That's a real tricky thing. And so what was so interesting as we were trying to dive into the details to figure out a little bit more about this so we could help with our work and product development and all that sort of stuff, seeing if we're coming up with ideas that even had adequate effectiveness rates, what we found was that, what was so interesting is that in response to the 2008 Vessel Speed Rule, there was a reduction of vessel strikes.

but there was actually no, they were not able to correlate that to the rule. So it's a really interesting modeling exercise and one that doesn't quite make sense. It seems like we need to figure out what was driving. Maybe it was a Vessel Speed, because I mean, I know when I think about a big shipping container, I mean, if that thing's going 15 knots or 10 knots and it hits a whale, I mean, I don't think the outlook is much different, to be honest. So...

It just makes you really want to dive into the details and it really wants you to make sure that we're looking at this from a really comprehensive standpoint. Like we don't wanna just assume that risk from a 35 foot center console boat is detrimental to the stock. It may be and it may have a risk, but is that significant enough to take such significant action? Or are there other ways that we can go about?

John DePersenaire (01:06:20.204)
mitigating that risk. And I think that's really what we've been driving towards is getting to that level of detail and breaking apart vessels by their construction, their use, their operation, and really their overall risk profile, not just lumping them all into one category and saying we got to do something for all these boats.

Katie (01:06:24.152)
Yes.

Katie (01:06:40.758)
And in the story of the progression of tech, potential tech avoidance of these whales, that can be incorporated into these really big ships that if they're going 10-15 knots and hit a whale, the whale's not going to do well, but they can find a way to avoid it, which I think is, I think that's really, really cool. So no, yeah.

John DePersenaire (01:06:50.715)
Absolutely.

John DePersenaire (01:07:01.4)
Yeah. And Katie, I was going to say that's a really interesting point too, because again, I mentioned before that there's a lot of groups that are doing a ton of work on monitoring North Atlantic right whales. And one of the things that we foresee and one of the things that we're sort of working through with this task force is having vessels become detection assets. And so we know not all boats like a big container ship are going to end up Viking.

be honest, are going to have that same sort of suite of electronics up there. I mean, you know, we build a luxury product and they're really sophisticated. Right. And so from a scalability sense, that's not a likely option to think that every boat is going to have, you know, a $20,000 FLIR infrared camera on it. But what's really cool about the work that we're trying to do is that if a detection comes through, say a Viking.

Katie (01:07:34.158)
Mm-hmm.

Katie (01:07:46.123)
Right.

John DePersenaire (01:07:53.508)
there's ways that we can push that information off that boat, have it go to an aggregator, have that information pushed back out through the fleet, either through AIS or through internet connection. And so the entire fleet gets the benefit of one boat being highly sophisticated with its electronics package. So that's right. And so that's where we think AIS plays a really critical role in this, because as you know, I mean, that's coming through very high frequency radio signals.

Katie (01:08:10.666)
What a great use of AIS. Ha ha ha.

John DePersenaire (01:08:22.744)
widely used easy and cheap way of getting information out to voters, you know, and so that's something that we see again. We know not every boat is going to have the same capabilities as a big commercial vessel or even a Viking, and so the way we're looking at this is we want to have that benefit not just reside solely with the vessel that's really well outfitted. We want that benefit to go out to the entire fleet, and so that's one of the things we're really focused on.

Katie (01:08:27.703)
Mm-hmm.

Katie (01:08:50.134)
Well, how many, like, you might not know this off the top of your head, but roughly speaking, how many Vikings do you think you have up there in the Northeast? On the water.

John DePersenaire (01:09:01.068)
I don't know. I'm sure the sales department knows that. I don't know.

Katie (01:09:04.582)
It's a substantial amount you guys. Like the Viking industry up there is pretty exponential and most of these boats in the recreational fishing industry that are going out for offshore for highly migratory species are going to have this type of system. So this is a great example of how recreational anglers can actually really help protect the long-term sustainability of these large marine mammals that are critically endangered. So I think that is just too cool.

Um, yeah, well thank you. Finally.

John DePersenaire (01:09:34.776)
That's well said. Well said. And listen, Katie, that was one of the real key points I try to drive home to the workshop is that, you know, we're really an untapped resource right now. You know, like to think what we hold in terms of detection capacity is staggering. I mean, like you said, I mean, you know, you're just talking about Viking, but you think about the entire sport fish fleet, you start thinking about, you know, commercial ships. I mean, there is a vast untapped.

capacity there to really get a lot of good information on North Atlantic right whales, and to use that information to get it out to operators so they have much more informed, timely information that they can really figure out how to avoid this and reduce the risk. So I think that is something that we really need to drive home.

Katie (01:10:20.03)
I think that's...

Katie (01:10:23.506)
And for the listener that's wondering, well, will these people want to put that system in their boat? They will if it's going to help them be better fishermen. So the answer is it's a win-win, 100%. And as we already touched on, that's a very extremely well managed population up there in the Northeast. Like I'm very, I've fished in a lot of places around the world and I've been very impressed with the U.S. government's way of managing our HMS species.

John DePersenaire (01:10:33.54)
Yeah.

Katie (01:10:53.16)
So, John, I hate to cut us short, but we're getting low on time, but I just want to make sure for the listeners out there that want to be involved, you said write your local congressman. Do you have any other call to actions you'd like to add?

John DePersenaire (01:11:10.756)
Yeah, so the National Marine Manufacturers Association has a Boating United action alert up for this issue right now. So if you wanted to go ahead and reach out to your member of Congress, you go to Boating United and that'll give you all their information about your member, their contact information, makes it really easy with bullet points to kind of go through all these issues. And, you know, it just makes you a more effective constituent. So it's a great way of making it an easy way to reach out and, you know, give your voice to this issue.

Katie (01:11:39.614)
And you guys, we've linked that in the description below on this episode, so it's just one click and you're there. Feel free to go there and we'll see you out there. John, thank you so much for your time. I'm gonna cut it short. I really appreciate you sitting down with me and breaking down this situation. And I really appreciate all the work that you and your team have done to help protect our rights and also our Atlantic right whales. So thank you for your time. You guys, we'll be seeing you out there. And as always, don't stop chasing your wild.

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