Industry heads to Washington for American Boating Congress

It’s time again for Mr. Boater (and dealer and manufacturer and …) to make plans to go to Washington.

The annual American Boating Congress will be held May 11-13 at the Renaissance Hotel in Washington, D.C. ABC is one of the best chances to effect change in public policy for anyone working (or playing) in the boating industry.

ABC is organized by the National Marine Manufacturers Association, and several co-hosts including Boating Industry, the Association of Marina Industries, BoatUS, the Water Sports Industry Association, numerous state and regional trade associations and others. (The co-host list continues to grow. For the latest list, visit

From ethanol to fishing regulations to funding for important projects, what happens in Washington affects the industry everyday. While government affairs professionals at NMMA and other groups do a great job working for the industry, no lobbyist is as influential with members of Congress as a constituent or employer from their district or state.

What is ABC?

The American Boating Congress is a comprehensive legislative conference that brings together recreational boating industry leaders to formulate public policy and present a unified front on issues that impact marine businesses.

ABC gives attendees a chance to not only discuss major issues facing the industry, but also to coordinate visits to Congressional offices to share those concerns with elected officials and staff. NMMA government relations staff handle coordination of the meetings, as well as provide briefing papers and talking points.

Last year, ABC attendees made hundreds of visits to Hill offices during the conference.

Some of the key reasons to attend:

  • Learn how to grow your business in the current economy.
  • Discover how current state and federal regulatory issues affect your operations
  • Learn the status of key federal legislation concerning the marine industry
  • Hear updates from experts about how pending legislation and regulation can impact your bottom line
  • Get first-hand knowledge from state and federal regulators, key congressional staff and industry experts about trends that impact the marine industry
  • Network with fellow industry leaders

While the final agenda has not been finalized yet, the conference portion of ABC will feature discussions on several topics including the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, trade, fishing, taxes and ethanol.

ABC will also feature several guest speakers, including members of Congress and key regulatory officials. Speakers at ABC 2014 included Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Fla., Rep. Stephen Fincher, R-Tenn., Rowan Gould, deputy director of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and others.

This year’s ABC is also crucial because a new Congress, the 114th, took office earlier this year. With a new Congress comes a new opportunity to introduce legislation and educate lawmakers on the issues important to boating. Boating Industry recently talked to Nicole Vasilaros, NMMA’s director of regulatory and legal affairs, about what we can expect from the new Congress and some of the key issues that will be important this year. You can read that interview here.

For more on the American Boating Congress and governmental issues, be sure to read the April issue of Boating Industry and visit often.


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