MRAA Board Chair testifies on Capitol Hill

The Marine Retailers Association of the Americas announced that Jeff Strong, MRAA Board Chair and president of Strong’s Marine, testified before Congress on Capitol Hill regarding the MAPOceans Act and the Right Whale Vessel Speed Rule. His testimony provided key insights into how marine retailers stand to benefit from various bills before the committee while highlighting the shortcomings of the proposed Right Whale Vessel Speed Rule and the impact it stands to have on marine retailers.

Strong, a leader in the recreational marine industry and advocate for marine retailers, spoke before the House Committee on Natural Resources, Subcommittee on Water, Wildlife and Fisheries. Testifying in support of the MAPOceans Act (H.R. 7925) and H.R. 8705, his testimony provided key insights as to how these pieces of legislation will provide more information to recreational boaters on the high seas and how increasing the availability of information pertaining to federal fisheries regulations and the ability to locate and detect Right Whales is crucial to ensuring that recreational boaters are good stewards on the water.

“Throughout my 51 years in the industry, I have seen firsthand the value that our coastal regions provide, not just as critical habitat but also as recreational spaces that support local economies,” said Strong. “The MAPOceans Act will address the need for standardized and accessible data relating to the public use of our waterways. By digitizing information about these waterways, like fishing restrictions and regulations, we are taking a step towards ensuring the safety and enjoyment of recreational boaters and anglers and the conservation of sport-fish populations. I again thank Representatives D’Esposito and Levin for their leadership on this important piece of legislation.”

Strong also emphasized the importance of H.R. 8704, introduced by representatives Carter (R-GA) and Peltola (D-AK). This bill would pause any changes to the current North Atlantic Right Whale Vessel Speed Rule until 2030 while also establishing a grant program to foster enhanced coexistence between recreational boaters and North Atlantic Right Whales. Strong highlighted the economic impact that the currently proposed rule stands to have on marine retailers and the need for technological solutions to help conserve the North Atlantic Right Whale. He shared recent survey results done by the MRAA with the committee to showcase that the proposed regulation could have an overall impact of $2 billion for marine retailers down the Atlantic coast.

“The MRAA is committed to being the voice of marine retailers and ensuring that our concerns are heard at the highest levels of government is one of our top priorities,” said Matt Gruhn, MRAA President. “Jeff Strong’s leadership and dedication to our industry is invaluable, and his presence on Capitol Hill underscores our commitment to advocating for marine retailers, as we take every opportunity to educate lawmakers on how proposed regulations and legislation, like the Right Whale Vessel Speed Rule or MAPOceans Act, stand to hurt small businesses along the Atlantic coast or benefit recreational boaters and our member businesses.”

As the MAPOceans Act and H.R. 8704 continue to move throughout the legislative process the MRAA will continue to support these important policy initiatives while working closely with policymakers to advance the interests of our members and the broader recreational marine industry.

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