Survey: Government regulations hurting boating’s growth

A majority of those in the boating industry believe government regulations are making it difficult for them to grow their business.

That’s according to the latest Boating Industry survey, which surveyed readers of the magazine and digital products about their top issues and attitudes about government policies and regulations. The survey was conducted by email in March, with respondents a mix of dealers, manufacturers, suppliers and others in the industry.

Nearly 60 percent of readers said that government regulations hurt their ability to grow their business in the last year. The specific regulations cited by respondents varied, but most were focused around restrictions on fishing, local permitting issues and environmental policy from emissions to the Renewable Fuel Standard and its ethanol requirements.

Some other key findings:

  • Ethanol is the top concern, with 30 percent saying it was the most important issue to their company, twice that of the next highest issue (water access) at 15 percent.
  • The Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare) is much less of a concern to readers than it was a year ago. In 2014, 20 percent said it was their top concern and 67 percent were “very concerned” about it. Those numbers dropped to 9 percent and 49 percent this year.
  • Those in the industry are taking action: 80 percent of respondents have done something in an effort to affect public policy. The most common action, at 54 percent, was contacting an elected official.

The full results of the survey will appear in the April issue of Boating Industry.

We asked readers about some of their specific concerns. Here is some of what they had to say:

“Obamacare caused drastic rate increases in premiums and steep decreases in benefits, resulting in less money to spend by the consumer.”

“Fuel diurnal requirements have priced some boat models out of reach of blue collar workers.”

“The cost of compliance and the increase in tax rates has created a financial burden in an already weak industry.”

“The constant regulations to engines does nothing but raise the costs of the engines.”

“My operation is very small so compliance costs for following and documenting compliance to environmental regulations can be onerous.”

“Ethanol has given boating a bad name with many unhappy consumers.”

“The implementation of the Affordable Care Act is making it very difficult to maintain our current level of employees.”

“Fuel system regulations have increased our costs per boat an average of $1,200. We have to pass these on to the buyers.”

“The E15 option will cause major problems with the reliability of outboards. Less reliable means more people leaving boating.”

“They have no idea what it takes to run a business, so they couldn’t care less about what these things cost our industry.”

“Ethanol is a huge problem, followed closely by the banking regulations that are making small business financing very difficult.”

“Over regulation on all aspects of business.”


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  1. The environmental requirements on our business have caused us to eliminate a boat repair shop from our facilities. We still get unleaded fuel but high prices at the rack have caused us to loose volume in sales ( 70%) hence to keep in compliance with regulations on marine fuel sales, we have to charge $1 over delivered price/gallon. Public use at our lake is down 100,000 vehicles / year. Water discharged for stream quality has coupled with drought conditions and lowered our lake level 18′. A lower cash flow and compliance with regulations plus higher insurance and property taxes restricts our ability to maintain our property and eliminates expansion. A limited economic base to pull from is also a large factor as the blue collar economy is taken out of the picture. All of this combines to make profit drop and with the current bank regulations the values of our business have declined making financing almost impossible. Low margins and shrinking assets. Change has taken away the great American Dream and has brought a nightmare.

  2. Jolly Rogers Marina is a small business, I am now 71 years old and would like to see the business stay in the family. I have talked to my daughter and son in law and they want to continue to run the marina but my suggestion to them on my death was sell. The government regulations and controls suggest that more are coming, and that the only way for this to continue is for the government to take over and cover the loss is by taxation. Government seems to have all the money it can spend, so sad.

  3. We need to seperate marine fuel from auto fuel. We are having such a hard time now with all the fillers they are putting in our fuel the outboards just cant use it or pass it not to mention the inboard motors and older outboards.

  4. No one spoke of the marine police on the water that use stop and frisk procedure or the fact any ticket on the water goes on a criminal record and nor a traffic record or that you can loose your driving license on the water easier than on the road. They have taken the fun out of a week end on the lake around here in Alabama. Our customers have dropped by 80% since they introduced the marine police to the lakes.
    Not to mention the high cost to the tax pays to have such an office which the local sheriff also does.


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