Earlier this month, more than 250 representatives of the recreational boating industry met in Washington DC to discuss the industry’s most important policy issues with members of the US House of Representatives and Senate.
The American Boating Congress (ABC), the marine industry’s premier political and legislative event produced by the National Marine Manufacturers Association and sponsored by MRAA shed a bright light on critical issues impacting the recreational boating industry, such as getting the Modern Fish Act passed, stopping the year-round sale of E15, and jump-starting the marine workforce.
More than a dozen high profile speakers, from members of Congress to members of the Trump Administration, addressed ABC attendees throughout the three-day conference, the largest and most influential group of speakers to date.
The lineup included Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Scott Pruitt, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, and heads departments such as NOAA (Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere, Rear Admiral Tim Gallaudet) and the U. S. Coast Guard (Captain Jennifer Williams). Keynoting ABC was Chris Wallace, award-winning journalist and host of FOX News Sunday.
Additional highlights of the week included the conference’s issue workshops, which covered everything from trade and fuel policy to fishing access and jobs, which were designed to help ABC attendees navigate the industry’s most important issues ahead of the conference’s hill meeting’s. Of note was an NMMA and MRAA hosted panel discussion on overcoming the recreational boating industry’s workforce shortage. The panel was timely considering that according to a recent assessment by the MRAA, 21 percent of positions in the recreational boating industry remain unfilled, 59 percent of vacant positions are in service, and 88 percent of the open service positions are technicians.
The core of the American Boating Congress is the interaction between industry representatives and member of Congress. This year, ABC attendees held more than 180 meetings with members of Congress and their staff including Sen. Richard Burr (N.C.), Sen. Dan Sullivan (Alaska), Sen. Bill Nelson (Fla.), Rep. Jimmy Duncan (Tenn.), and Rep. Bill Keating (Mass).