NMMA asks members to fight new legislation

WASHINGTON – The National Marine Manufacturers Association has issued an “Action Alert” to its members in response to legislation recently introduced in the U.S. Senate to combat illegal logging which NMMA says could instead harm small domestic boat manufacturers.

The “Combat Illegal Logging Act of 2007” (S. 1930) poses serious problems to marine manufacturers who import timber products, according to NMMA, which says the bill requires small boat manufacturers to enforce foreign laws, with which they cannot be familiar, rather than requiring that the government address the problem at the international level.

“There is no reason that proposed legislation should impose criminal and civil penalties for activities that are not within the purview of Natural Resources Law,” NMMA wrote in its message. “The bill as offered would wrap many other laws (for example, tax, trade, labor, etc) into the Lacey Act for timber trade purposes. It is unacceptable to expect small businesses to be familiar with and enforce so many foreign regulations.”

NMMA also said the legislation offers no protection for “innocent owners,” which is a defense that protects manufacturers from strict forfeiture liability of manufactured goods and inventory of imported wood products. Without the “innocent owner” provision, manufacturers would have to prove that the timber was legally harvested, rather than the onus being on the government to prove that the timber was not legally harvested, NMMA said.

NMMA says the documentation requirements in the proposed bill are “poorly defined and unnecessary,” and would require increased documentation without defining what that documentation will be and what agency will manage/enforce that documentation, while again placing the onus on manufacturers and importers to implement a program that works across third-world country lines.

“These requirements will be virtually impossible to implement and will have severe negative impact on the international trade of legal timber for U.S. manufacturers,” NMMA wrote.

NMMA members were asked to contact their senators through a link to the NMMA Boating Online Advocacy Tool, or by calling them through the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and asking that they oppose S. 1930.

Members are also asked to let Bryan Zumwalt (bzumwalt@nmma.org; 202-737-9764) know that they have contacted their senators, as this information will help with follow up and lobbying against the bill.

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