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President's Report
July 2019


Our Board of Trustees meeting in June is always a milestone for me. It’s the end of our fiscal year and the perfect time to analyze and measure what we did right and what we can do better. Following the board meeting we host an “Appreciation Lunch” for all the member volunteers, business partners, and NMTA staff that contribute so much throughout the year to ensure we have a thriving recreational boating and fishing industry here in the Pacific Northwest.

I’m pleased to report NMTA finished the fiscal year with 725 member businesses and a long list of accomplishments I believe are making a difference for your company by promoting boating businesses, protecting boating businesses, and producing events for your business.

At the highest level, boat ownership in Washington is increasing and increased by 7% this past year. According to just released Department of Licensing boat registration data we currently have 236,428 registered boats in Washington compared to 220,908 the previous year. This puts Washington in the top 10 nationally for registered boats. It’s notable that Washington is number 13 for population in the United States, which means our state “over indexes” for boat ownership.

With the start of this fiscal year we welcome a new Board Chairman James Baker with Seattle Boat Company who will take over for Craig Perry from Leschi and Lakewood Marinas for the next two years. I can’t say thank you enough or host enough appreciation lunch’s to appropriately thank our board chairs and board members for all their time and effort to be good “fiduciaries” for the association and our members. You can see a list of current board members at this LINK.

Southern Resident Killer Whales

Puget Sound recreational boaters and anglers are being asked to be extra vigilant this year in giving the Southern Resident Killer Whales (SRKW) space for foraging, resting and socializing.

Since May of 2018, I have served on Governor Inslee’s SRKW Task Force as a voice for recreational boaters, anglers, and businesses. Last November, I voted to support nearly all of the 36 recommendations –https://www.governor.wa.gov/sites/default/files/OrcaTaskForce_reportandrecommendations_11.16.18.pdf – proposed by the Task Force.

One of the recommendations I fully supported was to increase the distance vessels are required to stay from SRKW. I think this new regulation is reasonable and fair because it applies to all vessels on the water. In U.S. waters vessels are now required to be no more than 300 yards to the side of SRKW and no more than 400 yards in front of or behind SRKW.

Below is a graphic that shows the new U.S. and Canadian regulations which, for the moment, are slightly different. You’ll also see that vessels are also now required to observe a “Go Slow Zone” (7 knots or less) when within a half-mile of SRKW. Judging distance on the water can be difficult, but WDFW enforcement, which will be increased this summer, assures me that their intent is boater education, not boater citations.

For your customers, or when you’re on the water, I recommend the following guidelines to judge distance. If you can see an Orca pod or even a single dorsal fin with the naked eye you are likely at a half-mile or less and should proceed at 7-knots or less.

Boaters should be alert for the professional whale watching boats because these vessels act as a “sentinel” to inform other vessels to the presence of whales of all types. A group of vessels moving slowly, close together, and in the same direction during the summer is most likely a group of vessels viewing whales.

San Juan County is promoting the use of a Whale Warning Flag by vessels when in the presence of whales. Think of the Whale Warning Flag as a Diver Down flag for whales. I encourage dealers, brokers and charter businesses to consider including the Whale Warning Flag with their boats, or at least add it to their vessel orientation.

Below is a picture of state Senator Liz Lovelett holding a Whale Warning Flag with a KOMO-4 news team at the Anacortes Boat & Yacht Show. Information about purchasing the Whale Warning Flag is available at https://www.sjcmrc.org/other-content/whale-warning-flag/.

Boaters are also encouraged, when in the Go-Slow Zone, to turn off depth sounders if safe to do so because most echo sounders used by recreational boats use the 50khz frequency which is the same frequency the SRKW use for echo location. You can find more information about regulations and best practices at www.BeWhaleWise.org

Grow Boating Earned Media

I’m fond of saying NMTA’s mission is to make sure boaters and non-boaters wake up in the morning and say, “I want to go boating or fishing.”

The best way NMTA achieves this during the summer is by generating positive news stories in the media about all types of boating across the region.

NMTA’s Grow Boating team consists of our Grow Boating committee, NMTA’s Grow Boating Director, Mark Yuasa, and our public relations consultant, Lisa Samuelson of Samuelson Communications.

Together the team creates an annual list of newsworthy events, activities and destinations that make for good content on television, radio and in print that Lisa can present to her media contacts.

So far this summer, NMTA’s Grow Boating public relations efforts have generated over 50 different positive boating and fishing segments that have aired on KING-5, KOMO-4, FOX-Q13, KIRO-AM and KGNW-AM.

Following are links to some television segments so you can see NMTA’s Grow Boating efforts at work for yourself.

Jim & George Shrimping 2

KING-5 Explore the South Sound without owning a boat

KING-5 Evening: Best Northwest Escapes
KING-5 Pride of PNW: Boating in Washington's Ship Canal

FOX-Q13: Northwest Paddling Festival

KING-5 Evening: Lake Union Duck Dodge

KING-5 Evening: Evening Boat on Elliott Bay

On July 19, KING-5 Evening will feature a full 30-minute show about boating and shrimping in the San Juan Islands that we filmed last month. Below are pictures of me with Evening host Jim Dever discussing the “how to” of shrimping and a “boatload” of Puget Sound spot prawns.

NMTA’s Grow Boating efforts are made possible by Seattle Boat Show exhibitors because 65-cents of every square foot sold at the show is used to fund NMTA’s media outreach, grants, event sponsorships and the Northwest Salmon Derby Series.


The Grow Boating Committee meets monthly at the NMTA office. If you would like to get involved, please contact Mark Yuasa at mark@nmta.net.

Membership Renewals and Seattle Boat Show applications

The start of our new fiscal year also means membership renewals. For all our members that have already renewed you should have received a thank you letter from Alashia Wartelle, NMTA Membership Director, earlier this month.

If your company has not yet renewed our staff will be contacting all unrenewed member’s this month. If you have questions about your renewal you can contact Alashia at alashia@nmta.net.

Application information for the Seattle Boat Show, Jan. 24 – Feb. 1, 2020, was mailed and emailed to all NMTA members in late June. The deadline for an on-time application and the lowest possible display rate is August 31. If you have questions about your application or the process please contact Katie McPhail, Boat Show Director, at katiemc@nmta.net.

Thank you for your trust and support of NMTA this past year. I can confidently say all nine of us on the NMTA staff absolutely love boating, fishing and doing everything we can for your business.

See you on the water,

George Harris

NMTA President/CEO

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