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NEWS - PRESIDENT'S REPORT - QUARTER 1, MARCH 2021
 

PRESIDENT'S REPORT

March 2021

Washington new boat sales were up an impressive 12.4% in 2020 with the highest number of new registrations we have seen in 12 years. In an ordinary year, this headline would be enough good news to have every NMTA member grinning from ear to ear. Instead, our boat dealers, manufacturers, brokers, and all the businesses that make up the recreational boating ecosystem are still gritting their teeth as we continue to navigate uncertainty and uncharted waters. I’ll continue the navigation metaphor by saying it does appear calmer water exists in front of us with the roll out of the vaccine, relaxed COVID-19 restrictions for businesses, and recognition that our storm was not nearly as bad as other industries. You can read a more detailed recap of 2020 new and brokerage boat sales, as well as hot off the press January and February 2021 registration data HERE.

Speaking of uncharted waters, NMTA made the decision in early November to produce a virtual Seattle Boat Show, January 28 - 31. NMTA was just one of three organizations to attempt a major virtual show and I believe we set the bar in terms of quality, scale, and promotion with our 74th iteration of the Seattle Boat Show. I appreciate the trust, investment of dollars, and time by 218 NMTA members. Also, special thanks to the NMTA staff, Boat Show Committee and Board of Trustees for having the vision and courage to maintain the Northwest’s most important boating promotion. I firmly believe the show content (964 featured boats and products, 83 pre-recorded seminars and 34 hours of live Boat Show TV), advertising, and earned media increased sales for all NMTA member businesses. Norm Schultz, a weekly contributor for Trade Only, wrote a detailed recap of the show and you can read it HERE. I hope we never need another 100% virtual boat show. That said, we learned much from our virtual effort that we can incorporate into future in-person shows. Once again, NMTA leaned forward to embrace change and a changing market.
 
With the show in our rearview mirror, I would like to pivot to the current legislative session underway in Olympia. While it’s headquartered in Olympia, it’s taking place on - you guessed it - Zoom. Please read the legislative updates in this edition of WaterLife.
 
Lawmakers are just a little past the half-way point of the 105-day session, and I’m pleased to report momentum and success on this front. First, the momentum: House Bill 1107 passed the House of Representatives 97-0. This bill permits out-of-state vessels to charter in our state when the skipper is provided. Now, this bill heads to the Senate as it winds its way through the legislative process.
 
I would also like to share a few other wins scored by NMTA’s government affairs team. There was a movement afoot to introduce a luxury tax, which we have quelled. Also, Department of Revenue had requested a bill to raise taxes on boats. We beat that measure back, too. 
 
Outside of the legislative session, the Department of Ecology (ECY), Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and the National Marine Fisheries Services (NMFS) are all working on policies, guidelines and permits that as written have significant negative impacts on our member businesses. Specifically, there is a draft version of the new 5-year boatyard permit issued by ECY on March 3 that lowers the copper benchmarks by 90%. Looking at WDFW, Puget Sound salmon fishing seasons for 2021-2022 are currently being negotiated by this state agency and Washington’s treaty tribes and in early April we will learn to what extent WDFW supports mark-selective fishing in Puget Sound. Finally, NMTA is fully engaged with NMFS, Department of Natural Resources and our congressional delegation to clarify NMFS guidance that has stalled the repair and construction at nearly 40 Puget Sound marinas for three years. NMTA is not advocating for your business alone. We have an impressive list of members, lobbyists, consultants, attorneys and partner organizations supporting our efforts for tough but fair regulations to protect Puget Sound water quality. Interested members should contact Peter at peter@nmta.net for upcoming Boatyard, Marina, Government Affairs and Superyacht Committee meetings.
 
Looking ahead here are some events and activities NMTA is working on now.
 
Annual Meeting
The NMTA Annual Meeting is scheduled for Thursday, April 29 at 4:00 p.m. This will be a virtual livestreamed event that will follow our traditional format of awards, my annual report to members, and a keynote presentation. This year’s keynote speaker will be Frank Hugelmeyer, President of the National Marine Manufacturers Association.
 
Board Elections
Every spring, the NMTA membership elects three new trustees to serve 3-year terms on the NMTA Board of Trustees. All NMTA members should have received a self-nomination form recently which is the first step to appearing on the election ballot that will be emailed to all members on May 1. If you have questions about the nomination process or would like to know what is expected of board members please contact me directly at george@nmta.net or Katie Groseclose, katieg@nmta.net.  NMTA’s strength is it’s 13-member board of trustees and their commitment to NMTA’s mission of growing boating in the Northwest. You can see the current list of trustees at this LINK.
 
Anacortes Boat & Yacht Show
Working hand in hand with Gov. Inslee’s office, I’m optimistic NMTA can facilitate a small, in-person boat sales event at Cap Sante Marina in Anacortes this May. Recently, NMTA received guidance from the Governor’s office and Skagit County on how we could have up to 60 boats on display in the water. This is great news, and I’m confident an event in May could be done safely and an appropriate first step back to promoting boating with events. The Anacortes show committee is meeting regularly to discuss options. If you’re company would be interested in participating or has thoughts about an in-person event in May, please contact Boat Show Director, Katie McPhail at katiemc@nmta.net.
 
All of us at NMTA appreciate the trust you put in us every day to make decisions, big and small, on your behalf. Thank you for your membership and continued support. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us during these turbulent times if there’s anything we can do for you or if you just feel like having a chat.
 
Sincerely,

George Harris
NMTA President & CEO

Email me!
 
 
 
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