Almost 275 industry leaders were in Washington, D.C., Monday to lobby their congressional representatives on legislative and regulatory issues affecting the marine industry.
Industry leaders have been grappling with many issues, including the preservation of water access, the elimination of hull splashing and the protection of tax measures for people who want to use their boats as second homes.
"We're very delighted with the strong response from the marine industry," Thom Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association, said in his opening remarks at the American Boating Congress.
"The entire industry is represented here this morning, and that is fantastic," he said.
"Our government can have as much impact on our businesses and our lives as almost anything else," said Dammrich. "This [conference] really does have an impact on our legislative efforts."
The two-day legislative conference kicked off this morning with a keynote speech from Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb.
"Recreational time is going to become more a factor in everything we do," from jobs and taxes to how we raise our children, he said. "You represent an industry that will continue to represent one of the growing industries in this county."
The boating industry generates more than $33 billion a year and more than a half-million jobs, according to Hagel.
Monday's conference agenda includes a panel discussion on water access and the future of the industry. Irwin Jacobs from Genmar Holdings, Dustan McCoy from Brunswick Corp., Rear Admiral Craig Bone from the U.S. Coast Guard, and Gerald Barnes from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers were the panelists.
This session is followed by a Business of Boating luncheon featuring David Blackburn from Faria Marine Instruments. A silent auction to raise money for NMMA's Political Action Committee, and a gala dinner and awards presentation will cap the evening.
Today, attendees will visit Capitol Hill to air their concerns to key legislators.