The 2013 American Boating Congress, which wrapped yesterday, was a success for the recreational boating industry: Attendance increased 25 percent from 160 to 200 and the number of co-hosts increased 138 percent from 13 to 31, compared to last year. The increase in participants from all sectors of the recreational boating community resulted in more than 250 meetings with Members of Congress, up 34 percent from last year’s 187 visits, creating a more unified voice and making the boating industry’s presence known on Capitol Hill.
Activities began on May 8th with multiple planning meetings, a welcome luncheon and special awards and honorees. The States Organization for Boating Access (SOBA) recognized Rep. Frank LoBiondo (N.J. 2nd Congressional District) with its annual congressional award for his significant contributions to boating recreation. U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, was given the Center for Coastal Conservation’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Sportfishing, given each year to a federal legislator who is dedicated to promoting the sound conservation and use of ocean resources. The Center for Coastal Conservation also honored Phil Dyskow, the former president of Yamaha Motor Corp. U.S.A., who received the Eddie Smith Manufacturer of the Year Award. The evening included a BoatPAC reception attended by more than 200, including Members of Congress and ABC attendees, to discuss ways to continue working together on behalf of the entire recreational boating industry.
The morning of May 9th kicked off with a gathering of all attendees to hear a variety of distinguished legislators and industry leaders address topics and issues impacting recreational boating. Speakers included Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV); Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI); Frank Peterson, President of RBFF; Ken Walsh, US News & World Report chief White House correspondent; RADM Lee, United States Coast Guard; and Deerin Babb-Brott, Director, National Ocean Council Office. Speakers addressed economic concerns, sequestration, health care and legislation, as well as insight into their impact on recreational boating.
Following the morning event, ABC attendees met with Senators, Members of Congress, and Congressional staff to directly address policies in face-to-face meetings. Boating industry leaders and policymakers were able to engage in candid discussions around pressing issues facing boaters and the U.S. boating industry, including access restrictions, ethanol and tax policy.
In addition to a robust conference program and successful meetings with Congress, the Congressional Boating Caucus was honored at a closing reception bringing federal legislators and industry stakeholders together under one common theme: support for the recreational boating industry as a whole. NMMA President Thom Dammrich noted, “I look at the boating industry as an ecosystem. If bad legislation and regulation adversely affects one part of the industry, it harms the entire industry. We must continue to work together to gain ground on Capitol Hill.”
ABC would not be possible without generous support from sponsors: ADMIRAL‘S LEVEL: Yamaha Marine,Yamaha Watercraft, Brunswick | CAPTAIN’S LEVEL: Bombardier – Evinrude and Sea Doo, Indmar | FIRST MATE’S LEVEL: Center for Coastal Conservation, ILMOR Engineering, Inc., Dometic, Tracker Marine Group, Volvo Penta, Cobalt Boats, Sea Tow | PURSER’S LEVEL: ARI, Caterpillar, Marine Concepts, Omni Risk Management Inc.
This year’s co-hosts are an integral part of ABC, contributing time to program development and encouraging their members to attend and participate. They include the American Boat Builders & Repairers Association, Association of Marina Industries, Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway Association, BoatU.S. Boating Industry Magazine, Boy Scouts/Sea Scouts, Boating Trades Association of Metropolitan Houston, Center for Coastal Conservation, CT Marine Trades Association, Florida Yacht Brokers Association, Lake Erie Marine Trades Association, , Marina Recreation Association, Michigan Boating Industries Association, Marine Industries Association of Palm Beach County, Inc., Marine Retailers Association of America, Marine Trades Association of New Jersey, National Boating Federation, National Marine Bankers Association, National Marine Distributors Association, National Marine Manufacturers Association, Northwest Marine Trade Association, National Marine Trade Council, North Central Marine Association, RI Marine Trades Association, South Carolina Marine Association, States Organization for Boating Access, Soundings Trade Only, U.S. Superyacht Association, Wisconsin Marine Association, Water Sports Industry Association, Yacht Brokers Association of America.
Logo courtesy National Marine Manufacturers Association