600 Million Ways Boating Gives Back
Could recreational boating be a political issue this year?
Here is one important boating story that candidates should hear
A BoatU.S. special report By Ryck Lydecker
This spring, candidates for elected office will be kicking campaigns into high gear for every public post from local school board to President of the United States. During this political season, what may not be top-of-the-mind to many boaters are the political and legislative underpinnings of our preferred pastime, and the
importance to all of us of one particular boating success story,
the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund. Let’s look
at a few facts and figures so you’re ready to educate candidates
for public office – and maybe even your fellow boaters!
“That single piece of federal law is the keel, if you will, for so
much of what we enjoy today, and maybe even take for granted,
in recreational boating,” says BoatU.S. Government Affairs
senior program manager David Kennedy. “From facilities – like
slips for transient cruisers and launching ramps for trailer boat-
ers – to safety education, clean water, and healthy aquatic habi-
tat, the Trust Fund pays boaters and anglers back many-fold for
what they pay into it.”
More than 30 years ago, BoatU.S. worked successfully with
members of congress and other advocates in recreational boat-
ing and sportfishing to create this unique federal program that
remains the cornerstone of boating and fishing opportunity
today. It’s funded directly by boaters and anglers through the
federal excise taxes we all pay on boat fuel and fishing tackle as
well as by duties levied on boats imported for the U.S. market.
Together, these taxes generate about $600 million annually. The
lion’s share of these funds flow right back into boating and fish-
ing through state-government programs – an important story
that should be reinforced in all 50 state capitals.
When you think about it, Kennedy notes, Trust Fund
benefits spill over to the general public as well. “Who doesn’t
like clean water and restored wetlands as well as the economic
benefits that boating brings to local areas? That’s a story most
candidates should hear from boaters. We never know when
that elected official, informed and armed with this knowledge,
could help us protect the Trust Fund from those who may try
to siphon our money off for other uses.”
Is the Trust Fund threatened? Not at present. BoatU.S. and
its angling and boating partners successfully lobbied congress to
reauthorize the Trust Fund through 2020.
boating generated $36.8 billion
in retail sales in
2013, with more
new boats sold.
■ Fishing generates more than
$48 billion in
retail sales and
has a $115 billion
impact on the
with an annual
of $121 billion.
■ Close to
by fishing alone,
wages, and business earnings of
of coastal wetlands
46 | BoatU.S. Magazine FEBRUARY | MARCH 2016
Source data from reports
NMMA and ASA