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Is boating finally being pushed to the limit?

Boaters and anglers . . . they’re generally a lay-back group. That’s why they became our customers and got into boating in the first place – we sell them their great escape! They usually aren’t extremists, either. They don’t hyperventilate or cry-out the world is ending. More likely than not, boaters simply ask for no hassle and a chance to get out on the water in peace!

 Peace, you say? Good luck on that one. If we take time to look around these days, we’ll see that boating and fishing are being “hassled” more than ever before. So points out BoatU.S. president Nancy S. Michelman in the latest issue of BoatU.S. magazine . . . and she’s absolutely right!

Fittingly, Michelman sees that our customers are being unfairly singled out in a variety of ways. She offers some definitive examples:

The bill in Congress called the “Ending Taxpayer Subsidies for Yachts Act” would eliminate the second home mortgage interest deduction currently allowed for boats with a galley, head and berths. The inequity of this bill is that only boaters would lose the deduction, while RV’ers and second vacation homeowners would not be touched! That’s as outrageous as the Oregon county that shut down a 7-year-old’s lemonade stand because the kid lacked a restaurant permit. 

How about being singled out this way: Washington state recently passed legislation banning the use of copper antifouling paints. You guessed it – applies only to pleasure boats. The myriad of commercial and military boats on Washington’s waters, which Michelman rightly contends use far more copper paints than pleasure boaters, are exempt. Why? Because the bill wouldn’t have passed if commercial vessels had been included.

Want more hassle? Go to any of several Army Corps of Engineers lakes and be prepared to be either fined ($175 on Pine Flat Lake – Calif.) or thrown off the Vicksburg (Miss.) District lakes of Arkabutla, Sardis, Enid, Grenada if you’re not wearing a life jacket. On Pine Flat, it means all boat of all sizes, although the corps claims it’s just not going to enforce it on big houseboats. In the Mississippi area, it hits all boats 26-feet or less. (Note: Dealer Outlook will update the mandatory life jacket issue here next week.) Interestingly, when BoatU.S. members were surveyed, a whopping nine to one opposed mandatory life jacket wear for adults. 

Here’s another: Recreational fishermen cannot catch any gag grouper in the Gulf of Mexico because the National Marine Fisheries claims gags are “overfished.” But, apparently not so “overfished” so the commercial fishermen can still take 100,000 pounds of gags! It clearly illustrates the NMF’s unfair favoritism toward commercial operators. Score: Commercials 100,000 lbs, Anglers: 0. It makes me gag!

That and a lot more beg the question: Is boating finally being pushed to the limit? Should we get “mad as hell?” What is it about boating that puts a target on our backs? Michelman contends that lawmakers, to single out one obvious group, simply don’t get it that boaters are not “fat cats.” She’s right, again. 

As an industry (and as boaters) we must loudly and consistently drive that message home these days, because it seems making laws and regulations that, in effect, restrict and hassle our customers has become to government what a buffet line is to a bulging waistline. Please feel free to add to this sampling other hassles you see boating facing in your area.


11 comments on “Is boating finally being pushed to the limit?

  1. Bob

    This situation could not be more true, the Feds and the States have pumped billions into new patrol vessels and personnel who now feel that they have to justify there existence by hassling boaters. I have watched a small inlet with 50 boaters patrolled by 5 boats several with multiple armed officers from 3 different state agencies. They pulled over every boat they could for a “Safety Check” .
    While I 100% support stopping someone for ligitimant probable cause, fishing for one is unconstitutional. We are loosing control over our country, the State and Federal Government are becoming so large and financially burdensome we are 10 years away form total economic collapse if there are not very big changes.

    The regulatory overburden is so pervasive that a friend who is opening a new restaurant says it will take 4 months to get the parking lot design approved! The total project will take a full year, not construction, permitting. This is going on everywhere at every level.

  2. Michael Joyce

    Is there a point at which the boater simply says, “I’m out of here – too much aggravation, not enough fun and enjoyment?” The answer is yes, and it may be getting closer than we want to admit. Never underestimate the U.S. Government’s ability to kill off any industry that they focus their attention on with over regulation.

    Unlike many other industries, the boating industry is surprisingly fragile. Since politicians know for certain that ever single person on the water is “rich” they begin casually lump 30’ “yachts” in with 300’ yachts in their sound bites while completely losing sight of the hundreds of thousands of jobs involved in the marine industry.

    As he was leaving his post as head of the NMMA, Jeff Napier wrote one of the most insightful articles ever published in Soundings Trade Only in which he described what was wrong with the boating industry and what we needed to do to correct the problems. In the article Napier explained that when the snow skiing industry was dying a generation ago they went looking for the real problems and discovered that every single participant got into skiing only after someone took them as their guest. It turned out that when the aggravation at the ski slopes began to grow exponentially the participants simply stopped inviting new friends into the sport for one very specific reason – it just wasn’t that much fun anymore.

    It’s very simple, when the fun is gone so is the customer!

  3. dave r

    The real question is ” how come most of these [similar]issues seem to pop up all over the country, and seemingly all in close timeframe?”
    Keep in mind that “boating administrators, accessors,elete groups, etc” have their own methods of communication. Either by their national association group meetings [read workshops], and .org web based information exchanges. Their ideas for taxation, restrictions [insurance companies looking to alter their actuarials to zero], and access denial, spread like a virus almost overnight.
    By adding more levies, layers, etc., the public sector administration[s] at local and state levels can financially justify their existance?
    We’ve all heard this and observed this one before!!!
    The real question is, HOW DO WE STOP IT?
    Expose them to daylight,,,by name and how they voted on issues. Politically it will rattle chains at a higher level that does NOT want that kind of publicity from middle America. [read job risk]
    It’s a start.

  4. Enginecom

    The Demoncrats will be the demise of the recreational boating industry. They declared styrene a possible carcinogen, banned open molding, and are after dust! We need to dump the dems all over the country and get back to being a free people. The poopy police and all their fellow rent-a-cops need to be defunded. Yes go after drunks and reckless boaters but can the random stops and checks. Forget the fishing license or mandating adults wearing pfds. We need to stop this or our business is doomed.

  5. zyxw

    Enginecom’s gratuitous attack of one political party is both false and not deserving of airing on STO. Frankly, I’m very surprised that STO allows such blatant name calling in its comment section.

  6. Against Life Jacket Mandates

    The current administration does seem to have it out for the boating industry, and boaters, from the Coast Guard to the EPA. It’s sickening. And it’s happening right under our noses, using our own tax money! This type of stuff should be headline news, but it isn’t even mentioned at all.

    There’s a related Facebook page you all should go LIKE – as pass on to all your boating friends. We need to spread the word, people need to be alerted to the government’s dark deeds, before it’s too late.

  7. Capn. Chuck

    I really have a tough time feeling sorry for my fellow boaters. Whenever new regulations or legislation is proposed most boaters run to their favorite boating website or discussion board and whine, complain and moan how their rights are being trampled on and how they are being singled out. They let organization like BoatUS take the lead and try to find the right answers, while they continue to whine. But most are too lazy or too apathetic to get off their backsides and take a stand against these regulations they cry are so unfair. Someone named Joseph de Maistre once said “Every country has the government it deserves”. My advice, stop whining and get out there and do something about it.

  8. dave

    Chuck…like what? I have spoken with my elected officials, both are as frustrated as I am…with the EPA, the Chesapeake Bay fiasco, “sewage dumping” (it IS already illegal, why do we need more laws to ban it, NDZ – when it has been proven to be of no use in cleaning up things),etc, etc….when the CG tries to fill their panel with a “citizen” you find that the DHS has denied funding for three, now four years in a row, yet the add still shows on this site.

    Just where do we show up to “do” something?

  9. redbw

    I agree wtih Dave. Just where do we show up to do something about the over regulation? There are so many jurisdictions that over see anything that has anything to do with water, that it makes your head spin. There are so many fronts to the battle.

  10. Capt Brad

    The recreational gag fishing season put in place through a temporary rule established a 2011 recreational season for gag that opens at 12:01 A.M. on September 16 and closes at 12:01 A.M. on November 16. The current bag limit of two gag within the four fish aggregate grouper bag limit and the minimum size of 22-inches total length will be in effect during the fishing season.

    Gag is considered overfished (population abundance is too low) and undergoing overfishing (rate of removal too high). The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act requires action to rebuilt overfished stocks and to end overfishing. The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) requested NOAA Fisheries Service implement this temporary rule to revise 2011 commercial and recreational measures in light of the rerun of the gag update stock assessment. The Council is developing a long-term plan to address gag stock rebuilding through Amendment 32 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico.

    For more information, visit, or find us on Facebook!

  11. Noank Sailor

    this bill was sent to Ways & Means last May. I sent this letter to the CT member of the Ways & Means Committee:
    Dear Rep Larson,
    I live in Rosa DeLauro’s district but write to you since you are on Ways & Means. A bill “Ending Taxpayer Subsidies for Yachts Act” was sent to your committee in May 2011. Ths bill is sponsored by members from Wisconsin. The bill would allow second home mortgage interest deduction for RVs and second homes but end the deduction for boats. Such a bill obviously would hurt the citizens and economies of states bordering the oceans but not hurt landlocked states. It would benefit mid western states where RVs are produced, but hurt maritime states with active commerce involving the sale, storage, and repair of boats.

    The mega-yachts of media lore are not registered in the US and are not benefitting from the interest deduction. The vast majority of people using a boat as a second home are middle class and have an older 25-50′ vessel.

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