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New federal rule threatens to shut down four of Florida's seaports – American Journal of Transportation

| at 01:49 PM | Maritime   | Ports & Terminals  
Newly proposed rules by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Association (NOAA) pose a clear and present danger to Florida’s economy, its public safety and the security of our nation, the Florida Ports Council (FPC) said today. These federal rules would impose the most restrictive regulations on navigable waters from Pensacola to Tampa Bay, resulting in a near shut down of essential food, fuel, medical supplies and cargo imports and exports at four of Florida’s most active Gulf of Mexico seaports.
NOAAs proposal calls for eliminating all nighttime vessel traffic, and significantly reducing daytime vessel speeds, impacting Port Tampa Bay, SeaPort Manatee, Port Panama City and Port of Pensacola. The rule, NOAA says, is designed to protect a newly discovered whale, with a population size of between 50-100 whales, that is known to traverse the entire Gulf of Mexico region, and is not just limited to Florida waters.
“It’s as if NOAA wants Florida to hang up a ‘closed for business’ sign,” said Mike Rubin, president and CEO, Florida Ports Council. “Florida’s Gulf of Mexico seaports play an enormous role in fueling (petrol) Florida, and are essential suppliers of everything from food to medical supplies, and construction materials to build homes, roads and make ongoing hurricane repairs in Southwest Florida.”
Implicit in the federal government’s call for eliminating nighttime vessel traffic and reducing daytime vessel speeds only in Florida between Pensacola and Tampa Bay, is an uninformed assertion that Florida’s seaports have limited operations and shutting them down would not harm the supply chain in Florida or the broader United States.
“Americans have not forgotten how the West Coast supply chain debacle of 2021 left shelves empty, medical supplies limited, and even threatened to cancel Christmas. Florida played an outsized role in resolving that crisis by encouraging ships to change lanes and sail to Florida seaports,” Rubin explained. “Florida’s reliable and resilient seaports proved to the world that the Sunshine State was ready, and as a result, those shipping lines have made strategic decisions to make Florida a more permanent first port of call.”
Below is an outline of the economic, public safety and national security impacts of the proposed rule.
Florida’s 16 Seaports:
Port Tampa Bay (1 of 4 Fuel Ports):
SeaPort Manatee (1 of 4 Fuel Ports):
Port Panama City:
Port of Pensacola:
PUBLIC SAFETY: Seaports Fuel Florida:
The Florida Ports Council has requested to NOAA that they rescind their proposed rule, and take action to work closely with affected ports, maritime industry stakeholders and other to accurately determine the effect any proposal would have on ports and the communities they serve. A copy of the FPCs letter to NOAA can be found here.
The Florida Ports Council and its 16 member ports have a long history of protecting Florida’s environment to preserve the state’s natural environment. Collectively, Florida’s seaports are using innovative technology to champion the use of cleaner, alternative fuels, reducing engine emissions from port equipment, recycling oil used in cranes, capturing more stormwater than ever and ensuring this stormwater is cleaner before it discharged back into the environment.
Additionally, Florida’s ports have played a key role in raising awareness of wildlife and marine life, and supporting efforts like bird sanctuaries, clam restoration, annual Right Whale festivals, and more.
Among the organizations that FPC and its member ports are actively engaged with are:
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