Government shutdown affecting boating on multiple levels

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BiscayneNationalPark

In today’s Currents e-newsletter, the National Marine Manufacturers Association has called on the U.S. Congress and administration to hammer out a deal that will end the partial government shutdown and restore funding to nine of fifteen government agencies. The trade association said that the shutdown is impacting several agencies responsible for boating.

“While the National Park Service has kept many of their operations open, if the shutdown lasts significantly longer, we will be watching for staffing closures that impact access,” Nicole Vasilaros, NMMA senior vice president, government and legal affairs, told Trade Only Today.

“National Parks in Florida like Biscayne and Everglades are most sensitive to the impact for our community.”

It’s unclear what would transpire if the shutdown lasts for weeks, or even months. Some U.S. states, according to the New York Times, are paying to keep national parks open. The state of Utah has agreed to cover costs in order to make sure visitors’ centers at Arches, Bryce Canyon and Zion national parks are not shuttered. New York state is spending $65,000 a day to keep the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island open. Puerto Rico agreed to pay up to $80,000 for two weeks of services at the San Juan National Historic Site. It’s not clear, however, if national marine parks in Florida would similarly be funded.

Staffing for the National Marine Sanctuary and National Marine Fisheries Service have also been limited. “I am not aware of complete access closures, but a skeleton staff isn’t ideal,” said Vasilaros.

The U.S. Department of Commerce is also included in the furlough, says Vasilaros, noting that a “host of trade issues” impacting the boating industry are now being delayed. “That is more from a lack of process towards resolution,” she said. “For instance, a few members still have exemption applications for 301 tariffs and those will be on pause until after funding is secured.”

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