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No tricks, just treats today

It’s a good-news Halloween so here’s some “candy” for the day:

Kudos to Sen. David Vitter, R-La., for securing assurances from NOAA acting administrator Kathryn Sullivan that she will finally push for a review of the outdated fishery allocations currently in place. Recreational anglers have long held that NOAA’s fishery allocations are based on stock assessments using the SWAG (scientific wild-ass guess) method.

But Vitter clearly knows how to step up the game. He recently notified the Secretary of Commerce that he would hold Sullivan’s confirmation until NOAA finally takes action.

Specifically, he requested two things from NOAA: 1) direct the Regional Fishery Management Councils to implement the broad allocation provisions of NOAA’s own National Catch Share Policy; and 2) take steps to address the current allocation issues in the Gulf of Mexico’s red snapper fishery. The latter debacle has even triggered a bipartisan bill (Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper Conservation Act) and a demand by the Gulf states that the failed federal red snapper management be turned over to the states (see Tuesday’s Dealer Outlook).

As I noted Tuesday, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council is wrapping up its fall meetings today in New Orleans. While there was a sense the council might adopt a plan to delegate red snapper management to the states, there’s no news that it has. Absent that, however, Vitter’s action has caused NOAA regional manager Roy Crabtree to instruct the council to complete its review (which has dragged on for years) of the red snapper allocation during its February 2014 meeting.

All saltwater anglers should be tipping their cap to Sen. Vitter for his bold stance for the nation’s recreational fishermen.

Celebrate with the Michigan Boating Industries Association the passage of Sales Tax on the Difference legislation. The MBIA has pursued this law for many years. With the leadership of MBIA president Nicki Polan and board chairman Jim Coburn, Senate Bill 89 and House Bill 4234 are headed for Governor Rick Snyder’s signature and will be effective Nov. 15.

The law means Michigan will no longer be at a competitive disadvantage with its neighboring states, all of which have similar laws that allow consumers to pay sales tax only on the difference between the trade in value and the new purchase price.

Coburn says “It’s a win-win for consumers and businesses across the state.” Polan credits the time and effort put forth “by our board, our members and partners in Lansing that finally made this happen for our industry and for the boaters in Michigan.”

Good sales news continues to come from the RV industry. Wholesale shipments were strong in September, rising 18.6 percent above the same month last year to 22,498 units, according to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association. It was the best September for RV shipments in six years, with solid growth in towables as well as motor homes.

For the first nine months of 2013, RV shipments are up 12.4 percent through September to 248,623 units. Travel trailers are the largest vehicle category gaining 12.1 percent, while fifth-wheel trailers are up 6.5 percent. Class A motor homes are up 32.9 percent and Class C units are up 46.1 percent.

Meanwhile, auto sales were tripped up in September, much attributable to the 16-day government shutdown. But they have reportedly regained momentum and are now on pace to increase at least 12 percent this month over a year ago.

We watch RV and auto sales because they are indicators that boating sales usually follow. Accordingly, it’s certainly reasonable to predict continued increases in boat sales and the stage seems set for a good round of winter/spring boat shows. Indeed, we’ll be looking for those signs to come out of the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, which opens today.



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