About BoatUS Government Affairs
BoatUS uses the collective strength of over a half a million Members to fight against unfair taxes and regulations, all the while advocating sound public policy that promotes safe, responsible boating.
The Government Affairs staff continually monitors legislation introduced in the U.S. Congress and federal regulations proposed by agencies such as the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Federal Communications Commission.
On any given issue, BoatUS staff may be involved in lobbying individual members of Congress, testifying before Congressional committees, meeting with agency staff, speaking out at public meetings and alerting BoatUS members to make their views known to lawmakers and regulators.
Major issues for BoatUS at the federal level are as diverse as boating safety funding and regulation, boating access and facilities enhancement, navigational charts, marine communications, channel maintenance, environmental policy, fisheries management, construction standards for boats and marine weather forecasting.
Where It All Started
One of the founding goals of BoatUS in the 1960s was to bring the attention and resources of Congress, the U. S. Coast Guard and individual state governments to address the alarmingly high rate of boating accidents and fatalities.
Through the efforts of BoatUS founder Richard Schwartz, Congress passed the Federal Boat Safety Act of 1971, which established the Coast Guard's Recreational Boating Safety Program two years later. At the time, this landmark legislation was passed, boating fatalities were as high as 20.2 deaths per 100,000 boats. By 1998, the rate dropped to 6.5 deaths per 100,000 boats — even though the number of boats had more than doubled in two decades. The Coast Guard estimates that well over 23,000 lives have been saved as a result of this innovative program.
In addition, the legislation that BoatUS helped to craft over 40 years ago also established a milestone for the boating consumer. For the first time, manufacturers were held responsible for maintaining standards and correcting defects in boats as well as paying for recalls when hazardous defects were identified. Prior to this, boat owners were on their own and were responsible for making sure boat construction met the minimal standards that existed at the time.
BoatUS has served as a vigilant watchdog over the defect/recall program and most recently lobbied for and won millions of dollars in additional funding for the Coast Guard to reinstate its boat factory inspection program that had been defunct due to budget cuts since the 1990s.