The call is out for all dealers and marine trade associations in the eight states surrounding the Great Lakes to rally their respective Congressional delegations over President Trump’s proposed federal budget.
“With a proposed $4.7 trillion budget, it’s impossible to fathom how eliminating $270 million from the Great Lakes Restoration program can even be considered,” says Michelle Burke, president of the Lake Erie Marine Trades Association. “But that what has been proposed. It’s time for all interests to demand Congressional support for putting the full funding back in the final budget.”
Like last year, the President’s budgetary wish list for 2020 cuts the program to $30 million. “That’s supposed to make us happier?” says Burke. “The first budgetary proposal President Trump sent to Congress in 2018 attempted to wipe out the entire program.”
Specifically, the proposed reduction would reduce funding from $300 million to a mere $30 million. But when considered in the context of improving and protecting water quality, it clearly demonstrates a lack of understanding about the importance of the Great Lakes.
When carefully examined, there isn’t any coherent reason to cut full funding for the Great Lakes. In fact, while water covers nearly 70 percent of the Earth’s surface, freshwater makes up a stunningly small fraction of the total volume, only about 2.5 percent. But most of those sources are unavailable for human use. It’s trapped in ice sheets and ice caps around the planet’s poles, for example.
The Great Lakes hold 20 percent of the world’s usable freshwater. More than 12 million people in the surrounding states get their freshwater from the Great Lakes. There are just eight states around the Great Lakes, but they account for one-third of all recreational boating in the nation. “That should make protecting these Lakes, and the rivers and streams that feed them, a national priority,” Burke contends.
The truth is providing funds for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has been an ongoing battle for almost the entire life of the nearly 10-year-old program. “For the past few years, no matter whether it was a Republican or Democratic-led administration, there have been attempts to cut or eliminate funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative," said a statement from Senator Rob Portman (R-OH). “And every year, we have successfully defeated those efforts and ensured that this critical program receives full funding.”
The eight states are: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York. Burke is urging marine interests in each state to become engaged now in lobbying for complete restoration of the $300 million funding.
WOMEN MAKING WAVES
If you attended the Progressive Miami International Boat Show last month, you saw Stephanie Vatalaro, communications vice president for the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation, present the “Women Making Waves” campaign with an exciting video entitled “Get Your Fish ON.” It’s available free to dealers for use on websites, in newsletters, playing in boat show exhibits or on showroom video monitors.
As part of RBFF’s national campaign to increase participation in fishing from the current 49 million to 60 million anglers in 60 months (dubbed the “60 in 60 Initiative”), turning the spotlight on women enjoying fishing is a key element.
The good news is that reports from both the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) and RBFF show fishing participation is on the rise. Females and young people are driving the increase. To capitalize on this, RBFF launched its Women Making Waves campaign.
“New anglers are more likely to be young and female, but this isn’t reflected in advertisements, media and equipment,” Vatalaro explained. “It’s no wonder that fewer than 20 percent of women and girls think a fishing participant looks like them. We’re working to change that and are challenging the industry to do the same.”
So, if you’re a dealer selling fishing machines, the video in the link above is particularly apropos to you. Don’t pass up a great promotional opportunity.