MRAA advisory council meeting had much to offer

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It was a rapid-fire, information-packed annual meeting of the Advisory Council of Marine Associations on Monday in Orlando, Fla., in conjunction with the Marine Dealer Conference and Expo.

The council makes recommendations to the board of the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas on legislative and regulatory priorities. It will be sending up four major resolutions dealing with issues deemed most important to the retail side of the industry.

Briefly, the resolutions will urge that the MRAA be aggressively engaged in the following areas: (1) Workforce development programs and all such initiatives as a highest priority; (2) Heavily support federal and state fishing issues such as the Modern Fish Act and favorable revisions to the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act; (3) Continue advocacy for revisions to the Renewable Fuel Standard that will cap ethanol in fuel supplies; and (4) Address specific environmental issues, including reauthorization of the federal Water Resources Development Act; the exploding nationwide algae-bloom problems; support for efforts to control invasive species; and involvement in federal infrastructure legislation that is expected next year.

Council members are executive directors and officers of state marine trade associations. States participating in person or by phone linkups included Washington, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, Ohio, Michigan, Florida, Maryland, Wisconsin and central New York, as well as organizations that include the NMMA, ABYC, ABBRA, AMI, Soundings Trade Only and Marina Dock Age.

Kathleen Burns, executive director of the Connecticut Marine Trades Association, was unanimously elected chairperson of the ACMA for 2018. She succeeds George Harris, of the Northwest Marine Trade Association, who has been chairman for the past two years.

The meeting also reviewed the variety of programs and legislative or regulatory issues that marine trade associations and other industry participants are facing. Here are some brief highlights:

  • On the subject of workforce development, several announced a program to host high school groups at their winter boat shows for career days to highlight the industry and the work opportunities it offers. These include the Detroit Boat Show, Boston Boat Show and the Seattle Boat Show, where a new “Corps Plus” program will be launched by the NMTA and Boeing.
  • The MTA of Maryland, recipient of a workforce development grant, said it will work in a different way at its Baltimore Boat Show. It will be holding a special job fair aimed at Coast Guard veterans. It also alerted meeting attendees that workforce development grants may be available in other states.
  • Adverse proposals and policies being challenged by MTAs were also reported. For example, the Northwest Marine Trade Association is tackling the copper bottom paint dilemma in Washington, as well as the need to delay implementation of new national electrical standards that marinas simply cannot meet by the deadline.
  • Michigan Boating Industry Association is defending against attempts to change the current law, which provides that schools cannot open before Labor Day, while also dealing with proposed restrictions or attempts to ban wakesurfing. Michigan is not alone on the latter issue — the MTA of New Jersey is also facing increasing opposition to wakesurfing and, in fact, this issue seems to be quickly gaining traction in other areas.

Just looking at those reports should signal the need for every dealer to be a member of its local or state MTA. Simply, MTAs tackle issues no dealer could resolve alone! Not convinced? Here’s more:

  • The Connecticut Marine Trades Association is embroiled in battles for dredging disposal sites, with the added ingredient of related lawsuits. The Lake Erie Marine Trades Association is advocating the protection of Lake Erie from plans to build a large number of wind turbines. LEMTA is also aggressively seeking legislative and regulatory actions dealing with an increasing algae-bloom problem that is negatively affecting boating.
  • The Central New York Boating Industries Association is facing proposed mandatory prop-guards requirements (also currently proposed in Hawaii) and the Wisconsin Marine Association is embroiled in a problem of marinas being fined over selling dyed versus undyed diesel fuel.


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