Boating industry leaders held briefings last week on Capitol Hill in conjunction with the Congressional Boating Caucus.
Titled “Boating Safety and Infrastructure,” the briefings focused on issues ranging from dredging the Intracoastal Waterway and engine cutoff devices to aquatic invasive species and public-private partnerships with marinas.
The panel of marine-industry representatives included NMMA federal and legal affairs vice president Nicole Vasilaros; Brunswick Corp. product integrity and government affairs director Dave Marlow; BoatUS Foundation vice president and director of environmental programs Susan Shingledecker; Atlantic Intracoastal Water Association executive director Brad Pickel; and Safe Harbor Marinas senior vice president of operations John Swick.
Nearly 80 people attended the briefings, which highlighted the annual $121 billion contribution that recreational boating has on the U.S. economy and how Congress can help protect that through supporting key boating safety and infrastructure programs.
Key topics included the following:
- The NMMA’s Vasilaros opened with an overview of the industry. She followed this with the organization’s boating infrastructure priorities, including increased support for public-private partnerships to help address the maintenance backlog and aging infrastructure on federal lands and waterways.
- Brunswick is the parent of Mercury Marine and Marlow provided an in-depth analysis about how engine cutoff devices and emergency locator beacons improve safety for boaters and why they should be supported in Coast Guard reauthorization bills.
- BoatUS Foundation’s Shingledecker reviewed the impact that aquatic invasive species have on the nation’s waters and the importance of finding a consistent approach to the management of invasive species transport by boat, which varies across the country.
- From the AIWA, Pickel emphasized the critical importance of dredging the ICW to authorized depths for commercial and recreational boating via providing the Army Corps of Engineers with the necessary funding.
- Representing Safe Harbor Marinas, Swick wrapped up the panel discussion with the ways he and his team maintain marinas for safe use across 17 states and opportunities for public-private partnerships with the Army Corps of Engineers and other federal and state water managers.