ABC kicks off today

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WASHINGTON D.C. — Members of the recreational boating and fishing industries are converging on Washington D.C. for the American Boating Congress, which runs through Friday.

The industry is hoping to address a slew of major marine industry issues that are closer to seeing movement than ever before, and other new ones that have arisen.

“Never has there been a time around ABC where there are so many issues that are impactful for the industry and are really at a critical point,” Nicole Vasilaros, vice president of legal and federal affairs for the National Marine Manufacturers Association, told Trade Only Today.

Recreational saltwater fishing, aluminum tariffs, workforce shortages, infrastructure and renewable fuels such as ethanol and biobutanol are all areas that have seen momentum.

“Coming to ABC is going to be critical in getting these efforts we’ve been working on for decades really get across the finish line,” said Vasilaros. “We know the opposition has already been to Washington on these issues, so we’re hopeful that the industry fully understands that showing up to ABC will really make the difference.”

The traction that recreational boating and outdoor recreation have gained with the Trump administration can translate into legislative changes, said Will Higgins, public policy manager for the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas.

“I’m probably more optimistic and excited about this ABC than any of the others,” said Joe Lewis, owner of Mount Dora Boating Center and Marina in Florida. “This is the first time the industry can be more proactive about what we as an industry need versus being defensive.”

Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Sportfishing Policy, is calling its concurrent Capitol Hill event Center Focus on Washington.

“My message to people considering coming is simply this: You don’t get to complain if you don’t pitch in,” Angers says.

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