By Bill Yeargin
Boating is important not only to those of us who enjoy being on the water but also to those who depend on it for their livelihood. Boating has a huge economic impact, a 230-billion-dollar annual impact. The boating industry includes 36,000 businesses – most of them small and family-operated – providing 813,000 people and their families with great jobs making life better for millions of people.
Additionally, boating is a uniquely American industry. 95% of the boats used in the U.S. are built in the U.S.
While the boating industry provides a lot of fun for millions and significant economic opportunities for many families, it still has challenges. Recently the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) hosted many of our industry’s leaders in Washington, D.C., to share some of the government-related challenges and opportunities we face. As always, the NMMA team did an exemplary job creating clarity. Some of the items we discussed included:
- Atlantic Ocean Speed Restrictions – The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has proposed a dangerous 11 mph speed limit along the Atlantic Coast. This misguided regulation is to help protect the North Atlantic Right Whale. For clarity, no one wants to harm a Right Whale or any other type of whale. However, NOAA’s proposed restriction would do little to protect the whales while basically shutting down recreational fishing and boating in the Atlantic Ocean. Technology provides us with ways to locate and protect Right Whales without government regulation to shut down fishing in the Atlantic Ocean.
- E15 Fuel labeling – Many people are unaware that E15 fuel creates problems for many engines, including boat engines. The expansion of this fuel in the marketplace has led to widespread misfuelling. We are asking for better labeling at the pump to protect consumers from misfuelling and the problems it creates.
- Boating Infrastructure – Each year, approximately 85 million Americans enjoy boating but endure aged or insufficient infrastructure related to their fun. We need our politicians to support private sector investments in resilient infrastructure by enacting the PREPARE Act. We also need the LAKES Act passed to provide resources for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to do their work.
- Research and Development Expenses – The boating industry invests heavily to provide consumers with the advancements they desire while also working on innovations to protect the environment on which we depend. R&D expenses should be deducted as incurred to encourage further innovation.
There are more issues facing our industry, and the best place to learn about them is at the NMMA advocacy webpage https://www.nmma.org/advocacy. While you are there, subscribe to NMMA’s daily Currents newsletter for the latest developments.
Finally, leaders in the marine industry consistently identify advocacy as our biggest priority. An essential part of our industry’s advocacy work is through BOATPAC. I hope you will take the time to learn about BOATPAC by visiting the website and signing the prior approval form so the NMMA team can reach out to you with more details: https://www.boatingunited.org/prior-approval-form/
The years ahead will include a lot of challenges for our industry, but fortunately, we are well represented by the NMMA and BOATPAC. I hope you will link arms with those of us working to protect our industry both today and for years to come.
Bill Yeargin is CEO of Correct Craft, NMMA Chairman, and has authored five books including the best-seller Education of a CEO.