Press Releases

PANAMA CITY, FL – Congressman Neal Dunn, M.D. (Florida-02) recently joined Congressman Clay Higgins (Louisiana-03) in introducing a bill that would prevent the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) from issuing a vessel slowdown zone in the Gulf of Mexico.

“Florida’s maritime activities are vitally important to our state’s economy and support thousands of jobs. Much of the Gulf of Mexico, especially my district, would fall under the 10-knot rule,” said Congressman Dunn. “This nonsensical and catastrophic rule would slow down transportation and devastate the seafood industry. I’m proud to join Rep. Higgins in this effort to protect the Gulf Coast’s economy.”

“Southwest Louisiana is home to a thriving maritime industry. Our ports serve as critical economic engines for our community and this great nation,” said Congressman Higgins. “As our nation continues to grapple with the effects of the supply chain crisis of the past three years, enforcing further limitations on vessel transit could cause catastrophic losses. By allowing partisan politics to dictate the future of our country’s economic prosperity, we’re setting ourselves up for massive failure. This legislation will ensure the security of both our maritime and commerce industries.”

Florida proudly boasts 16 seaports. Cargo and cruise activities support 900,000 direct and indirect jobs and contribute $117.6 billion in economic value to the state. Florida maritime activities account for approximately 13% of Florida’s GDP while contributing $4.2 billion in state and local taxes. Forcing a vessel to operate at a maximum of 10 knots would add several hours to a typical trip, and halting vessel transits at night, as this rule suggests, would surely devastate the seafood economy.

“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, yet NOAAs restrictive proposed rule will have the effect of putting America back in a supply chain crisis,” said Mike Rubin, President and CEO, Florida Ports Council. “We appreciate Representative Dunn and Representative Higgins for filing the Gulf of Mexico Commerce Protection Act to stop these harmful regulations.”

Congressman Dunn first sounded the alarm on this issue on May 3, 2023, when he led a letter to NOAA requesting that they not finalize this overreaching proposed rule. You can read the letter here.

You can read the full text of the bill here.