All industries can be affected by applicable laws and regulatory changes, and the boating business is no exception. There are quite a few legislative pushes and state advocacy efforts happening in the U.S. right now that could be the difference between continued smooth sailing for the marine industry, or choppy waters ahead.
Here are a few especially relevant issues that could disrupt boat and maritime sales in the near future.
In recent years, we have seen an increase in initiatives to reduce single-use plastics, from taxes on grocery bags to plastic straw bans. But some state legislatures are now considering even more aggressive actions, most notably, the proposed California Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act, which would require a 75% reduction in the quantity of single-use plastics and packaging sold in the Golden State over the next decade. The bill would also mandate that all single-use plastics and packaging sold in the state be recyclable by 2030.
Both houses of the California state legislature passed similar although not identical bills, with the Senate bill limited to the vaguely defined "top 10 plastics littering California beaches." There is concern that these types of programs, when aggressively and quickly pursued, can have a negative impact on the boating industry. That's why the NMMA is currently working to delay the bill so that its stipulations can be further negotiated.
More states are passing strong boat titling legislation that protects customers and businesses alike from fraud. Georgia added new protections for vessel titling early in 2019, and the Uniform Certificate of Title Act is currently making its way through the legislative process in Alabama.
Most notably, Florida recently passed legislation supported by the U.S. Coast Guard, DMV and NMMA, which provides more consumer protections and makes the Sunshine State's laws more uniform with other states. If signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis, Florida will become the first top-10 boating state to adopt the Uniform Certificate of Vessels Act.
Wake boats are the recreational boating industry's fastest growing segment, with year-over-year sales rising 10% in 2018. However, some states have responded to this surge in popularity by proposing new limits on the usage of such vessels.
In New Hampshire, a bill that would create a study committee to assess the impacts wake boats may have on the state's waters is currently awaiting the governor's signature. The 21-member commission would be made up of representatives from government, homeowners, law enforcement, boat dealers and owners. In Montana, a soon to be implemented law mandates that drivers trailering tow boats with ballast tanks be stopped at the border and asked to prove that their boat is clear of aquatic invasive species or promise they will not launch within the state. Those who use their wake boat in Montana could face mandatory decontamination.
More encouraging is the news that the Valley County, Idaho Commission has tabled its plan to require wake boats to be 1,000 feet offshore, and personal watercraft to remain 300 feet from shore, after facing opposition from the boating industry and community, according to local CBS affiliate Idaho News.
The boating industry has enjoyed sustained growth for several years now, but it's important for businesses to remain aware of regulations that could potentially have a disruptive effect. It's also important for boat dealers to facilitate continued sales success through the use of financing programs. To grow your business, contact Aqua Finance today.