Annual Forum Looks at Recreational Boating Issues
WILLIAMSBURG, VA, December 17, 2015 – A panel of 11 distinguished national boating leaders that serve as a sounding board for Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) gathered with the senior BoatU.S. leadership recently in Williamsburg, VA to discuss key issues impacting recreational boating.
(L to R, Row 1) BoatUS National Advisory Council members with BoatUS staff: K. Carroll, J. Alter, J. Ellis, L. Clark; (Row 2) D. Clarke, C. Hawley, M. Podlich, K. La, D. Rider, J. Flynn; (Row 3) C. Edmonston, T. Dammrich, B. Adriance, R. Longfellow.
The 11 leaders attending the annual meeting included 1.) John Alter, Past Chief Commander, United States Power Squadrons; 2.) Kris Carroll, President, Grady-White Boats, Inc.; 3.) Lenora S. Clark, Former California Boating Commissioner, Former RBOC President; 4.) Dean Travis Clarke, Former Executive Editor, Bonnier Marine Group; 5.) Thom Dammrich, President, National Marine Manufacturers Association; 6.) John Flynn, Public Policy Advisor, Squire Patton Boggs; 7.) Chuck Hawley, Director, U.S. Sailing; 8.) Ralph Longfellow, President, Recreational Boaters of California; 9.) Darren Rider, President, National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) 10.) Jim Ellis, Former President, BoatUS and 11.) Bob Adriance, Former Editor, Seaworthy. BoatUS leadership included CEO Kirk La, President Margaret Podlich and BoatUS Foundation President Chris Edmonston.
Topics on the day-long agenda included the Peer-to-Peer boat rental market, a new online fuel dock spill prevention course by the BoatUS Foundation, life jacket developments and a recent demonstrations of alternatives to flares, as well as state issues including boater user fees, uniform titling bills, boating safety education requirements and anchoring challenges. Also discussed was the threat that invasive species pose to recreational boat owners and how industry and agencies are working together to ensure boating access is preserved and waterways protected.
The day wrapped up with a look at national topics including the federal Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, which uses existing boating and fishing taxes to fund related programs at the state level, the U.S. Coast Guard budget authorization (boating safety), the Water Resources Development Act (funding for dredging projects), and the Renewable Fuel Standard (changing the government’s ethanol fuel mandate).
Some takeaways from the discussions offered by BoatUS include:
- New ownership/rental models make boating available to more people. Peer-to-Peer services such as Boatbound, boat clubs and fractional membership programs are transforming the traditional boat ownership model.
- Stand-up paddleboard and other human powered craft are a growing water-user segment, but some of these paddler’s come to the water with little or no experience leading to user conflicts, not unlike during the growth of the personal watercraft (PWC) market.
- Flares, required by federal law on many boats, expire every 3 years, but are deemed hazardous waste, creating a legal disposal quagmire across the country. There are multiple benefits but also limits to alternative devices to replace the pyrotechnic flares, and BoatU.S. will continue to work with others on long-term solutions.
- Helping to shape smart laws and regulations dealing with boat ownership continues to matter to boaters and the businesses that depend on them.
- The recent renewal of the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund demonstrated how the boating and angling community is doing a better job of working together on common legislative concerns, and boaters and anglers are reaping the rewards