WASHINGTON – Strong attendance and an impressive increase in sponsorship have highlighted the American Boating Congress, held here over the last two days.
The 225 registered attendees marked a 15 percent increase over last year, while the total sponsorship of the event – an unannounced sum – jumped by 138 percent.
The event kicked off with a Political Action Committee Board of Trustees & Strategic Cabinet meeting and a welcome reception Sunday evening.
Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton spoke to attendees Monday morning on the importance of establishing cooperative partnerships between the recreational marine industry and the government, citing, among other things, the Clean Marinas Program, National Marina Day, Boating Infrastructure Grants and $60 million worth of grants available through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Secretary Norton joked about President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney’s tendency, to come down with “Sea Sickness” and the “Fishing Flu” in their attempts to spend time on the water, but became more serious when discussing the issue of energy costs.
“Energy should not be so expensive that people cannot travel to their favorite boating spots,” she said. “We recognize the harm it is causing boaters, anglers and tourism in our country.”
She added that the government may investigate tapping into what could be $ 0.5 trillion worth of energy supplies in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge.
In building toward today’s visit to Capital Hill for discussions with Congressional leaders, Monita Fontaine, the National Marine Manufacturers Association’s vice president of government relations, and her staff, presented a “Hot List” of federal issues affecting the recreational marine industry, providing overviews of the top-seven issues and “Talking Points” for industry members to highlight in their discussions.
About 100 congressional offices are scheduled to be visited today.
Fontaine believes it is important for the industry to make an impact on its visit to Capitol Hill today,
“In 2003, of the 2,148 regulations introduced, only 198 were signed,” she said. – Matt Gruhn
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