Sea Tow attacks BoatU.S. position

SOUTHOLD, N.Y. – In the latest shot of what appears to be a battle over mandatory boater education, Sea Tow Services International has released a statement in response to a BoatU.S. press release issued last week. Not only do the two groups differ over this issue, they’re fierce competitors within the towing services market.

The BoatU.S. release, entitled “Recreational Boating Safety Record Never Been Better,” implied that recreational boating safety is good enough, according to Sea Tow. (Click here for our report on the release.)

The N.Y.-based company said the release “relied on irrelevant safety data” and “reflected an objection to recent calls for mandatory boater education and to a legislative proposal addressing minimum requirements for recreational vessel operator proficiency and proof of identification that would begin the process of requiring universal boater education.”

“When speaking on behalf of the recreational boater it is our responsibility to avoid confusing the issue of improving boaters’ education and safety with the issue of improving homeland security,” explained Capt. Keith Cummings, Sea Tow president, in the response. “It’s one thing to try to prevent a whole new licensing bureaucracy, which could potentially include a whole new set of hoops for boaters to go through, but incorporating boating safety into that argument is simply misleading.”

Sea Tow said it believes there’s a critical the need for ongoing education of the recreational boating public.

“We also believe that, while certain statistics may show that boating fatalities have improved over the past 36 years, one need only to look at the number of tragic incidents which have occurred this boating season alone to underscore the need for continued improvement of the education of the recreational boater,” the company stated.

The company added that a recent survey of its membership base indicated that “responsible boaters overwhelmingly agree on the need for mandatory education and believe that such a mandate would greatly improve the boating experience.”

“While we can debate the best approach to improving security and the pros and cons of boater ‘licensing,’ we should not allow such debates to derail, or be confused with, efforts to improve boater education,” stated Cummings. “It is egregious to make a statement that implies recreational boater safety is good enough.”

He added, “As an industry, we should instead focus our efforts on identifying how to continue to support more widespread education of the recreational boating public in order to eliminate avoidable accidents and near misses and make our waterways safer for current boaters and more inviting for newcomers to the sport.”

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