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Coast Guard PSA goes over the top!

From the outset, let me be clear: I am a strong supporter of the Coast Guard and its accomplishments for boating safety on our waterways. I believe most of us in the boating industry feel that way. So, I’m sure what you’re about to see will disappoint you, as it has me, if not make you outright angry! 

Now, please use the following link to view the Coast Guard’s new PSA (public service announcement): YouTube - USCGBoatingSafety's Channel

With the production of this PSA, the Coast Guard’s Division of Boating Safety has blundered into a well-deserved backlash. It’s ironic that the PSA concludes with a good, simple message -- “Boat Responsibly” -- while the division, itself, has failed to act responsibly. For the sake of what some must think is desirable shock effect, the Coast Guard has actually abandoned its number one message (life jackets) and chosen to cast boating in an ugly, tasteless and unjustified light.

“Offensive” is what Marine Retailers Association of America president Phil Keeter has labeled the PSA. He has issued a "Dealer Alert" calling on all MRAA members to contact Rear Admiral Kevin Cook, director of Prevention Policy.

“We must let the admiral know that this PSA is not acceptable to an industry that has worked hard to build a positive image of recreational boating while promoting the Coast Guard’s goals of increasing life jacket wear and reducing drinking on boats. We must urge him to stop further distribution,” Keeter says.

This PSA has actually taken the Coast Guard off message. When you look at it, the PSA blatantly promotes, even glamorizes, drinking aboard. Check it out again: The sun is shining, the scene inviting, the boaters most enticing and the beer . . . hey, let’s pass those bottles all around, two in each hand! It actually undermines the long-standing safety message, in which many years have been effectively invested, that boating and drinking are not socially acceptable anymore.

It is, therefore, disappointing that the Coast Guard has failed to see what this PSA really represents: the expenditure of good funds to produce a bad PSA that mixes the wrong message, seriously offends its boating safety partners, and totally ignores its own priority of life jacket use.

If you think this PSA should be dry-docked, you can write: Rear Admiral Kevin Cook, director of Prevention Policy, Prevention Policy Directorate (CG-54), U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters, 2100 Second Street SW, Washington, D.C. 20593.

Or, you can contact Admiral Cook’s office by sending an email to his administrator at: germaine.y.jefferson@uscg.mil

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