Industry set to meet with lawmakers on water-resources act

The recreational boating and fishing industries will hold a Congressional Boating Caucus briefing and panel discussion today in Washington, D.C.

The recreational boating and fishing industries will hold a Congressional Boating Caucus briefing and panel discussion today in Washington, D.C. on the need for Congress to reauthorize the Water Resource Development Act.

The legislation provides funding for Army Corps of Engineers ecosystem restoration such as the Everglades, fisheries improvements, flood protection efforts and projects that support waterway access.

BoatUS said the bipartisan bill has strong support in the Senate and leaders are confident that the bill has enough votes to pass the House of Representatives.

The caucus is an informal bipartisan group of senators and House members that was formed in 1989 to advocate for the recreational boating industry.

Today’s panelists include Jim Sartucci, of the law firm K&L Gates and a retired Coast Guard and former Senate Commerce Committee staff member; Kellie Ralston, of the American Sportfishing Association and Keep Florida Fishing; and James Erskine, of the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The briefing is co-hosted by the National Marine Manufacturers Association; BoatUS; the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas; American Sportfishing Association; Center for Coastal Conservation; Coastal Conservation Association of Florida; and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.

“Today’s briefing is very timely, as the Senate is in the midst of floor deliberations on the WRDA legislation,” NMMA vice president of federal and legal affairs Nicole Vasilaros said. “We will be looking at the bill’s impact on existing and future water quality projects to ensure public access to our nation’s waterways, as well as the ongoing Everglades restoration.”

As an advocate for boat owners, David Kennedy, government affairs senior program manager for BoatUS, said the WRDA bill affects thousands of recreational boaters.

“Without WRDA’s critical funding, America’s recreational boaters could find some waterways too shallow or dangerous to safely navigate or small harbors potentially off limits if funding for dredging is not addressed.”