ABC 2014: Attendees report momentum on key issues

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MarineMax CEO Bill McGill (left) and his son, Brett, who is MarineMax West operations president, were at the American Boating Congress for the first time.

MarineMax CEO Bill McGill (left) and his son, Brett, who is MarineMax West operations president, were at the American Boating Congress for the first time.

WASHINGTON — The 2014 American Boating Congress, which took place May 5-7, saw attendance gains this year, with 225 people visiting Capitol Hill to advocate on behalf of the marine industry, a number the National Marine Manufacturers Association hopes to double that number in 2015.

MarineMax West operations president Brett McGill said his company probably will add a few more people to the mix next year because the event was so productive.

It was MarineMax’s first year attending the conference, he said. McGill and his father, company CEO Bill McGill, were there this year.

“This has been a good experience,” McGill said. “I probably didn’t recognize before how important the effort is. I heard some good talks on the ethanol issue. It seemed a lot [of legislators] were supportive.”

He also heard some good movement about the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act to include some of the suggestions from the Commission on Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Management, also known as the Morris-Deal Commission, to include specific allocation rules for recreational saltwater fishing, instead of just commercial fishing, as has traditionally been done.

“We’re going to help try to support that,” McGill said.

Thunderbird Formula Products executive vice president Grant Porter is not new to the event. Coming from the big corn-growing state of Indiana, Porter thought the ethanol issue will need work, but he also said there was a lot of interest in the invasive species proposals.

“No one wants Asian carp in the Great Lakes,” Porter said. “One staffer, in particular, was really involved in the invasive species issue.”

NMMA president Thom Dammrich asked everyone to bring a friend to next year’s ABC, McGill said, adding that this year’s attendance was up between 12 and 15 percent.

“I think most dealers don’t know how they can help,” McGill said. “It probably helps to have that local touch.”

The 2015 American Boating Congress will take place May 11-13 at the Renaissance Hotel in Washington.

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