Washington state law eases boat-access exemption

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Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire recently signed a bill that eases the pilotage requirements for foreign-flagged vessels.

Under the law, which takes effect on June 7, foreign-flagged boats weighing as much as 750 gross tons and under 200 feet can apply for a pilotage exemption. The previous legislation capped the exemption at 500 gross tons and 200 feet.

“This legislation is one more step that we can take to making our state's world-class cruising grounds more accessible to tourists. We had continually heard from captains and charter managers that the need for a pilot kept many of these boats from visiting our area and spending money in our economy,” Northwest Marine Trade Association president George Harris said in a statement.

“Now that we’ve solved this, we can move on to other parts of our agenda. America’s Cup in San Francisco will mean an influx of these types of vessels to our area. As we think about this event, we are pulling out the stops to become a magnet for them,” he added.

Buoyed by the Hebert Report, an economic impact study that the regional boating association co-commissioned, the NMTA has focused considerable resources on this boating segment.

“We've always known that boating means business for the 28,000 people employed in Washington state’s marine trades industry. And time and time again we’ve heard that our state is the one-stop shop for all things that cater to this segment,” Harris said.

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