U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross addressed the American Boating Congress this morning in Washington, D.C., telling a crowded room that he “understands how important your industry is to the economy.” Ross said his department has been working with recreational boating and fishing groups on different initiatives, from fisheries management to boating access.
“We are actively supporting vibrant boating and fishing industries,” Ross said. “We have signed a memorandum of understanding with four private groups, including the NMMA, to promote sustainable boating and fishing activities. We’re also working on collaborative programs with recreational fishermen to restore fishing habitat.”
Ross said 45 fish stocks have been “successfully rebuilt” since 2000. “The quotas for gamefish can be restored so that the Mid-Atlantic and New England waters no longer experience overfishing,” he said.
The secretary also cited the economic impact of outdoor recreation, saying it equals 2.2 percent of total GDP of the U.S. economy. “Boating and fishing are bigger than mining, agriculture and utilities,” he said.
Ross said that 10 million saltwater anglers contribute about $39 billion annually in sales and support 472,000 American jobs. He also said that the boating industry contributed $27 billion in durable goods sales, and that about $15.4 billion of that was spent on boats. “As you know, there is nothing cheap about owning a boat, but those numbers describe how important your industry is to our nation.”
The secretary also touched indirectly on the tariffs issue, saying the Trump Administration is insisting on “free, fair and reciprocal” trade. “We’ve renegotiated trade agreements with Korea, Canada and Mexico, and we’re initiating trade talks with Japan and Europe.”
Ross had harsh words for China, saying that the country must stop “flooding the global markets with government-subsidized goods and working with state-sponsored industrial espionage.” He added: “We want China to discontinue its policies of forced technology transfer, with the reverse engineering of products, production and proliferation of counterfeits and dangerous things.”
Returning to the boating industry, Ross said the Department of Commerce recently appointed four representatives from the recreational fishing sector to sit on marine fisheries and advisory committees. “We’re focused on creating an ever-stronger partnership with NMMA as we work to promote a healthy marine environment and new market opportunities,” Ross said. “Our goal is for everyone in our community to get to enjoy the great outdoors as much as we do. We want them to step on a boat and into the wild.”