WASHINGTON – The National Marine Manufacturers Association supports two resolutions recently passed by the National Boating Safety Advisory Council, recommending the U.S. Coast Guard initiate boating safety regulations and propose legislation, according to an NMMA press release on Friday.
A boating safety course certification resolution and a personal floatation device resolution were passed by the NBSAC – a committee of 21 members that meets twice annually to discuss important safety issues facing the boating community and take proper action toward fostering improved boater safety – after an April 27 meeting in Norfolk, Va.
The boating safety resolution advises the U.S. Coast Guard to seek statutory authority to impose and enforce a requirement that boat operators prove they've completed a NBSAC approved instructional course when boating in waters under U.S. jurisdiction, NMMA said.
The resolution springs from the 2002 National Recreational Boating Survey Report finding that 65 percent of boat operators have never taken a boating safety course. NMMA said it would support the Coast Guard in lobbying efforts to obtain the necessary legislation.
"NMMA is committed to boater safety. With increased boating popularity and a growing numbers of boats and boaters on the water, it is more important than ever that boaters attend safety courses," said Monita Fontaine, NMMA vice president, government relations.
The personal flotation device resolution asks the USCG to convene, "a working panel consisting of interested parties, such as PFDMA [PFD Manufacturers Association], boat manufacturers, retailers, state enforcement agencies, media, and boating education groups to initiate industry-wide cooperation in promotion of wear of PFD's while boating," NMMA said
The resolution also calls for "the implementation of the PFD Pledge for children, adults, boat manufacturers and retailers (dealers) be included in all promotional efforts for boating safety," and "agreements to show PFD's in all marketing materials, point of sale information, outreach programs, and Web-based information."
The resolution arose from Coast Guard statistics showing the rate of boat operators wearing PFD's has stabilized at 22 percent over the last few years, and that about 440 recreational boaters not wearing PFD's die annually, according to the NMMA.
The resolution includes a measurable goal for PFD usage by boaters of 44 percent by 2007.
"NMMA supports education and information programs that serve to encourage PFD use among boaters, but we believe PFD use for adults should remain voluntary and not fall under government mandates," Fontaine said. “We believe that if voluntary use does not increase, the government will step in to mandate it. NMMA stands ready to work hand-in-hand with the Coast Guard and other stakeholders to increase PFD usage."