Strong consumer demand; E15 still a target; focus on fisheries

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The expectation of continued strong consumer demand got another boost from last Friday’s announcement that unemployment has hit a 49-year low. Employers added a robust 263,000 jobs in April. It’s a powerful indication that businesses have cast off earlier concerns that the economy might slow anytime soon.

Specifically, the unemployment rate fell to a 5-decades-low of 3.6 percent, down from 3.8 percent. Moreover, the average hourly pay rose 3.2 percent from 12 months earlier, a solid climb that matched the increase in March. Most important, the Labor Department report confirms solid growth in the economy is triggering this strong hiring nearly 10 years into the recovery from the Great Recession. And, the stage is set for it to be the longest in history come this July.

Low unemployment. Rising wages. High Consumer Confidence Index. No hike in interest rates. We couldn’t write a better script for boat and equipment sales. Or, as the National Marine Manufacturers Association president, Thom Dammrich, often says: “It’s a good time to be in the boat business.”

E15 STILL A TARGET

More than 1,500 advocates have reportedly responded to the industry’s call to send comments to the Environmental Protection Agency about the danger the proposed year-round sales of E15 will have on the nation’s boating community. And, while that number is good, when one considers the number of employees in our industry that could have responded, it should have been many more.

Now, while the EPA is considering those comments, we must continue fighting for these consumer protections on another front.

Specifically, if passed, the “Consumer Protection and Fuel Transparency Act” will require clearly labeled gas pumps that contain E15 and better educate consumers on higher ethanol blend fuels. And, with EPA still considering approval of year-round E15, the danger to boating still looms large. So, we need this legislation to protect our customers and our industry.

Today, please, take this moment to tell your members of Congress to support the “Consumer Protection and Fuel Transparency Act” - our safety depends on it.

FOCUS ON FISHERIES

While the evening news would lead us to believe nothing else is happening in Congress these days but politically-motivated hearings, there is good news that the House Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife has convened a hearing — titled, “The State of Fisheries” — to examine current fisheries policies and identify opportunities to improve the health and sustainability of marine ecosystems.

For our industry, such a focus on fishing is important. Specifically, NMMA submitted testimony to the committee that clean water, sustainable fisheries, and sound management are essential to the recreational boating industry.

“For nearly 70 years, recreational boaters and anglers have served as the backbone for aquatic conservation. Recreational boaters and anglers pay federal excise taxes on fishing equipment and motorboat fuel and purchase fishing licenses—all of which directly funds fisheries conservation and habitat restoration through the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund. The recreational boating and fishing communities understand that having clean water and healthy fisheries has a direct impact on the number of boaters and anglers. The more boaters and anglers purchasing motorboat fuel and fishing equipment means more funds for aquatic conservation.

“For these reasons, we are grateful for the committee’s work to ensure the Modern Fish Act became law last year—which was the most sweeping reform of federal recreational saltwater fisheries management. This new law responsibly expands recreational fishing opportunities through enhanced marine fishery conservation and management. Further, this law will provide this country’s recreational anglers and boaters reasonable and responsible access to public marine resource. The passage of this bill is a big step toward implementing science-based methods and improved data collection techniques for saltwater fishing decision-making. We look forward working with the committee to ensuring this law is fully implemented.”

Overall, our industry efforts to put the spotlight on fishing and boating at federal levels has never been more successful than now, highlighted by the passage of the Modern Fish Act and the commitment to open more federal lands to fishing and boating access. You can get even more information by contacting NMMA senior vice president of government and legal affairs, Nicole Vasilaros, at nvasilaros@nmma.org.

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