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ABC 2014: Speakers tackle big industry issues

Grady-White Boats was honored for contributions to the National Marine Manufacturers Association’s political action committee. Shown are Denny Salas, (left), NMMA PAC manager, Kris Carroll and Jim Hardin of Grady-White, and the NMMA's John McKnight.

Grady-White Boats was honored at the American Boating Congress for its contribution to the National Marine Manufacturers Association’s political action committee. Shown are Denny Salas, (left), NMMA PAC manager, Kris Carroll and Jim Hardin of Grady-White, and the NMMA's John McKnight.

WASHINGTON — The American Boating Congress was packed with speakers and information Wednesday before the marine industry set out to reach as many senators and House members possible on the event’s final day.

U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Fla., speaks Wednesday at the American Boating Congress in Washington.

U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Fla., speaks Wednesday at the American Boating Congress in Washington.

Speakers ranging from Reps. Joe Garcia, D-Fla., and Stephen Fincher, R-Tenn., to U.S. Fish and Wildlife deputy director Rowan Gould and Chad Moutray, an economist with the National Association of Manufacturers, addressed many of the 225 attendees at the conference.

Garcia focused on the importance of reauthorizing the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, including language that would apply to recreational saltwater anglers.

“As Magnuson-Stevens gets out of the Senate, where I think it’s in very good posture, and heads our way we’ll be sure not to overreach,” Garcia said. But he wants to see the House pass a version that includes language from a report by the Commission on Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Management, which is chaired by Bass Pro Shops founder and CEO Johnny Morris and Maverick Boats president and co-founder Scott Deal, and stops lumping recreational saltwater anglers with commercial fishermen.

Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation president and CEO Frank Peterson emphasized the need to reach more minority-group members, women and young people in the effort to grow boating and fishing.

“Around a year ago we engaged with Walt Disney, one of the most admired companies in the world,” Peterson told the group. “Reaching multicultural families with kids is at the core of our growth strategy.” That is a goal Disney has managed to achieve well.

Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation president and CEO Frank Peterson speaks Wednesday at the American Boating Congress in Washington.

Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation president and CEO Frank Peterson speaks Wednesday at the American Boating Congress in Washington.

“The second reason why we joined this partnership was the goals of this organization” align with Disney’s, Peterson said. “Disney is about fun, experience and excitement. They have a corporate objective to introduce 35 million kids to outdoor activities. With these common goals, we formed a strategic alliance.”

Amy Walter, national editor of The Cook Political Report, discussed the political climate moving into the upcoming election season, and a panel of co-hosts addressed the Renewable Fuel Standard, the marine lending climate, boating safety training and funding for Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway projects such as dredging. (Read more about these in Friday’s Trade Only Today.)

Thom Dammrich awarded the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas as ABC ambassador for the work the group did in promoting the event.

A Political Action Committee fundraiser Tuesday night raised $30,000, which National Marine Manufacturers Association PAC manager Denny Salas said was very good.

“Our goal going forward is to have every company, everybody who makes a living in the boating industry, get involved in the political process,” Salas told attendees Wednesday. “One way is to get involved in the PAC.”

Intrepid Powerboats, Grady-White and Regulator were all awarded for their contributions.

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