Marine council sets MRAA political agenda

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The Advisory Council of Marine Associations recently submitted its annual resolutions for political action to the board of the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas and the board endorsed the recommendations.

In announcing the recommendations, council chairwoman Nicki Polan (executive director of the Michigan Boating Industries Association) said “The MTAs want the board to know firsthand what issues concern the regional and state groups. And it’s important to know the recommendations we forward reflect the unified thinking of MTAs around the country.”

There were six recommendations this year. Council members don’t rank them in order of importance but send to the board the following resolution: The council recommends the MRAA board of directors authorize action on the following issues:

1. Advocate for and support the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund to ensure its continued vitality and success as a “user pays, public benefits” program, as it is one of the most important programs in the nation for fisheries management, conservation, boating safety, angler and boating access and many other initiatives.

2. Closely monitor and support favorable use of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 and the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund for the dredging of America’s small boat harbors.

3. Support reform of the Renewable Fuels Standard to eliminate the damaging impact of corn ethanol on millions of America’s marine and other small engines by repealing the mandate for continually increasing the quantity of ethanol in the nation’s gasoline supplies.

4. Take action as an advocate and supporter of revisions to the Magnuson-Stevens Act during its reauthorization process, calling for more time and latitude for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to rebuild overfished stocks using reliable scientific research and data.

5. Support actions that helps stop the spread of aquatic invasive species, prevents the introduction of new invasive species and helps eradicate them as water quality and fisheries are vitally important to the survival of the marine industry in the U.S.

6. Take needed actions to support local and state marine trades associations, where and when requested, in their efforts to gain favorable boating legislation and regulations.

The resolutions help establish the MRAA advocacy agenda and direct William Higgins, the MRAA chief lobbyist in Washington, who came on board in March to represent boat dealers in all legislative and regulatory issues. An avid boater and angler, Higgins has brought an extensive background in legislative research, reporting, strategy and issues management to expand MRAA’s legislative program.

Council members annually meet in Orlando prior to the opening of the MRAA’s Marine Dealer Conference and Expo, which runs Nov. 16-19. The council also holds a shorter meeting May 11-13 in conjunction with the American Boating Congress in Washington, D.C. All marine industry trade groups are invited to attend council meetings.

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