Popularity of powerboats prompts talk of regulation

MIAMI – With dollar sales of high-performance powerboats up 20 percent in recent years, environmentalists and some waterfront property owners are fighting what they perceive are the dangers they pose, the Wall Street Journal reported in a story on the Miami Herald’s Web site yesterday.

The newspaper reported that waterfront homeowners are “leading a backlash against cigarette boats” in resort communities and that there is also talk about regulation “from Alabama to New Hampshire.”

Noise and shoreline erosion are two of the concerns cited by critics, many of whom are also opposed to the offshore racing circuits that hold events around the country.

Sailing advocacy groups are calling for a federal-government mandate that every powerboat should be built with a muffler, and wildlife conservationists are concerned about the danger they say the boats pose to marine mammals such as sea turtles and manatees, the newspaper reported.

However, National Marine Manufacturers President Thom Dammrich told the newspaper that boating is becoming more environmentally friendly, quieter engines are being manufactured and the industry is an important part of the economy.

”Boating is an important industry economically, and it’s also an important industry socially,” said Dammrich, who goes on to add that as far as noise is concerned, the boat races are “probably no louder than NASCAR racing.”

Thirty-two states already have some noise regulations for recreational boaters, and some lawmakers are working to add enforcement, according to the story.

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