There’s so much happening these days it’s hard to keep up. But in many respects, the boating industry has stepped up as, perhaps, never before to influence events and policies. Here are some issues you may not know about or that merit a victory lap:
We’ve become angling activists! And, our increased influence is resulting in favorable results for our millions of angling customers. For example, NOAA Fisheries has finally acknowledged the enormous economic impact of recreational fishing in America, a huge step forward. Meanwhile, in Congress our Modern Fish Act is moving forward, albeit we must continue to push hard to the finish line. Use this link today to call for passage of the Modern Fish Act.
In another favorable change, NOAA Fisheries has granted the five Gulf States a green light to test state management of the red snapper fishery in 2018 and 2019. With the states’ strong history of managing fisheries for our angling community, we’ve pushed for this action ever since NOAA declared a ridiculous 3-day 2-fish recreational red snapper season in 2016. So, for example, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has declared a 40-consecutive day private recreational season in state and federal Gulf waters beginning June 11, 2018.
Scientists have accidentally created a mutant enzyme that eats plastic bottles! It’s very promising. The breakthrough, as reported in the British publication, The Guardian, emanates from discovery of plastic-eating bugs in a Japanese dump. It could help solve the global plastic pollution crisis in our waterways and in fish that we may consume (see Dealer Outlook, March 29, 2018).
The mutant enzyme takes a few days to start breaking down the plastic but far faster than the centuries it takes in the oceans! Moreover, the researchers are optimistic it can be sped up and become a viable large-scale process. FYI - one million plastic bottles are sold each minute around the globe with just 14 percent currently recycled. Countless ends up in waterways harming marine life and, potentially, people who eat seafood. Kudos to Prof John McGeehan, at the University of Portsmouth, UK, who leads the research.
BALLAST OR BUST
The U.S. Senate is expected to soon take up an authorization bill for the Coast Guard that includes the “Vessel Incidental Discharge Act.” Environmental groups think the Discharge Act would be very bad for the Great Lakes. I agree, having lived and boated on them for 40 years.
Specifically, if passed, the Discharge Act would give the CG sole authority in setting regulations for ballast water discharges by all ships entering from sea or vessels navigating on the Great Lakes. Groups like the National Wildlife Federation say it will exempt the shipping industry from the oversight of the Clean Water Act, and essentially bar anyone from suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for stricter regulations than what the Coast Guard might impose.
In the past, ships pumping ballast water into the Great Lakes have introduced zebra mussels and dozens of other invasive species that now create at least $200 million per year in damages. Marine trades associations throughout the lakes have successfully supported previous actions that halted such discharges. This could undo those safeguards. So, dealers and all others with an interest in this huge boating market should be emailing their U.S. Senators, especially those from the Great Lakes, to vote NO on this CG authorization bill unless the Discharge Act is removed.
FINALLY WAKING UP?
Also on the Great Lakes, boaters and many others are applauding U.S. District Judge James Carr for his decision that the U.S. EPA must clean up Lake Erie and combat algae blooms. He said he wants to see indications the federal agency is complying with the Clean Water Act and ordered status reports by May 15. Boating interests have been critical of EPA’s past response, labeling it “weak” on this issue.
Ohio boaters are on a roll, also having demanded a better response from their state government. Four years after Toledo’s 2014 water crisis, the Maumee River and other western Lake Erie tributaries are still besieged by algae-forming phosphorus because the state has hung its hat on voluntary actions by farming that is known to be the primary cause of phosphorus in the lake. Finally, Governor John Kasich agrees his administration has no recourse but to impose tough, new regulations on farmers. In fact, data shows there was scientific justification to do that as far back as 2010. That’s four years before the Toledo water crisis and when boating interests started calling for action.
Although Ohio finally joined Michigan in declaring the open waters of western Lake Erie as impaired, the Kasich administration refused to do so for many years. It will mean more controls on farming and tighter sewage regulations. And while we always fear over-regulation, clearly new regs are long overdue here.
SAVE YOUR MONEY
If you’re one of more than 650 successful dealers who attended the Marine Dealer Conference & Expo last year, you already know you’ll be there again this December. But, if you’re a dealer who wants to be more successful and soak up extensive new knowledge, you’ll want to attend this year’s MDCE.
Everyone can save some money by registering for the event before the end of April (just 11 days away). During the month of April registration pricing is the lowest it will be. And, what you’ll see when you get to the MDCE in Orlando, December 9-12, is: 1,200-plus industry professionals; many good returning presenters; a lineup of exciting new speakers/topics; more dealer-to-dealer roundtables; 20 educational track sessions; and 9 pre-conference workshops.
Presented by the Marine Retailers Association of the America’s and Boating Industry magazine, everything in this conference is designed entirely for the industry’s marine dealers. So why not save money and REGISTER NOW!