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Member Advisory: March 3, 2011

Thursday, March 3, 2011   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Matt Gruhn
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Membership Advisory

MRAA Issues Position Paper

Opposing Mandatory Adult Wear of Life Jackets

In the past few months, the Coast Guard and Army Corps of Engineers have been ratcheting up discussions, studies, and strategies to implement a mandatory adult wear requirement of recreational boats on federal waters. The Corps of Engineers has taken the lead with three studies of a mandatory requirement in Ohio, Mississippi and California with the Coast Guard pressuring the National Boating Safety Advisory Council to prepare a recommendation for a federal requirement on its waters.

The requirements vary from boat size of 18 feet and under, under 26 feet, and all boats while underway. The Corps is very interested in gauging public sentiment and is working with the Congressional offices in the area around the three lakes where the new policies are being tested. So far, according to the Corps, boaters have not contacted any Congressional office and have not expressed opposition to the new rules. The Corps staff is now writing its final report to leadership and it is expected it will recommend a mandatory adult wear requirement on all boats while underway. The three lakes also have placed a life jacket wear requirement on swimmers either when swimming outside designated swimming areas or when over 100 feet from shore.

"The MRAA Board believes strongly that the adult life jacket wear issue is one of the biggest threats to the economic viability of recreational boating and has issued its new position paper to help marine retailers challenge this upcoming threat locally or in Congress. The position paper is available on the MRAA website or can be obtained by calling the MRAA office at 941-964-2535,” said Phil Keeter, MRAA President.

"MRAA will fight this issue with all our strength and energy,” said Dave Foulkrod, MRAA Chairman.

MRAA believes boater education and effective educational campaigns will be more effective in reducing boating related fatalities than a mandatory wear law that is unwanted by the boating public. Recent boating surveys indicate the vast majority (usually in the 80% plus range) of recreational boaters is strongly opposed to mandatory adult life jacket wear. MRAA strongly supports mandatory life jacket requirements for young people under the age of 13 and on certain high risk boats, such as personal watercraft.

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