The recreational boating industry is facing major policy decisions that will come to a head this summer and have long-term impacts on boating in the United States, so organizers are rallying the industry to attend the American Boating Congress from May 9-11.
Issues including getting the Modern Fish Act passed, stopping the year-round sale of E15, and defending the boating industry from domestic and global tariffs are all on the table and gathering momentum, the National Marine Manufacturers Association said.
The NMMA expects tariffs on aluminum sheet, which will be implemented this month, will motivate the industry to come to Capitol Hill, said Nicole Vasilaros, NMMA vice president of legal and federal affairs.
“This is a really critical year and members of Congress really need to hear from our industry,” Vasilaros told Trade Only Today. “When we see the Department of Commerce collecting tariffs and pricing changes, hopefully that will galvanize people to come to D.C.”
Organizers say they need as many people from the marine industry as possible to attend ABC to demonstrate the size, impact and importance of the industry.
In addition to the ethanol, fishing and tariffs issues, the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas is using the event to talk with members of Congress about the industry’s workforce challenges in hopes to make policy changes that will increase the labor pool.
“The best advocate for our industry is not me, or someone with the NMMA — it’s someone who actually lives in that Congressional member’s state or district and can speak to how a particular issue affects them on a day-to-day basis,” Will Higgins, public policy manager for MRAA, told Trade Only.
It’s important for people who are intimidated by the idea of talking to their elected officials to remember they’re actual people, Higgins said.
“At the end of the day, they’re just people elected to help constituents,” Higgins said. “They’re always incredibly interested in what people have to say.”
Workshop topics will include tariffs, free trade agreements, recreational fishing saltwater policy, workforce development, regulatory burdens, water infrastructure, fuel policy and regional conservation issues like aquatic invasive species and Pacific salmon.
Speakers include keynote speaker Chris Wallace, award-winning Fox News journalist; Lucas Hitt, the Congressional liaison for the Bureau of Economic Analysis; Chad Moutray, chief economist for the National Association of Manufacturers, and Capt. Jennifer Williams from the U.S. Coast Guard.
“Members of Congress are going to take action a lot quicker if hear from constituents and business leaders from home states and districts,” Vasilaros said. “That’s how it should work and that’s how it does work.”