Dock shortage threatens Florida’s marine industry

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A shortage of docks and parking for boat trailers were two of the most pressing needs identified at the Marine Industries Association of South Florida’s 2004 Marine Summit yesterday, according to a story in today’s Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel newspaper.

John Sprague of the Marine Industries Association of Palm Beach County warned those at the summit that without new boat ramps and parking spaces for trailer-hauled boats, public access to South Florida’s waterways is under threat, and that the “public will have a hard time” getting their boats to water, the Sun-Sentinel reported.

Yesterday’s sixth-annual gathering was attended by 155 people, including boating company executives, government officials and real estate developers. The MIASF, which sponsored the meeting, used the event to gather comments for an industry report to be issued in November, according to the newspaper.

In addition to the dock shortage and parking problems, summit attendees also expressed a desire for the industry to develop a stronger political voice in the area. The marine industry “has a regional presence in South Florida that crosses county lines,” said Broward County Mayor Ilene Lieberman. “We have to make sure we create an environment that promotes” the industry’s growth.

The marine industry generates about $8.8 billion in economic activity and accounts for about 109,000 jobs in Broward County, making it one of the area’s top industries, according to an industry-sponsored study, quoted by the newspaper.

Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jim Naugle said the marine industry’s higher paying jobs – such as for mechanics – mean it has more of an economic impact than tourism, the newspaper reported. He added that the marine industry’s future depends on how well it responds to competition from condominiums for waterfront space.

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