Behind The Scenes At The Minneapolis Boat Show

Industry Leaders Meet to Discuss Best Practices


By Bruce Claflin, Scuttlebutt Magazine

Most of us have attended a Boat Show recently, and we know they are a gathering spot for boaters and all of us who create products that are of interest to them. Boats, motors, trailers, electronics, and all manner of marine services and gadgets are present there, as well as the experts who can tell us everything about them. At the Minneapolis Boat Show last month, some 20,000 people came to see all the latest products from the boating industry. What few attendees realize is that the Boating Industry also uses these gatherings to meet and discuss a variety of topics that impact the local boating community. Such was the case at the Minneapolis show when leaders and members of several organizations got together prior to the show’s opening to exchange information and gain education on a variety of topics both environmental and safety related.

Representatives of the Midwest Marina Association, Minnesota Clean Marina program, Wisconsin Marina Association, and the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas all met on January 11th, just prior to the opening of the Boat Show.

The meeting was chaired by Rick Chapman (Port of Sunnyside Marina) on behalf of the Midwest Marina Association and presentations were made by several other industry leaders. Much education was provided by Jim Lazarz a representative from Bay West, a local firm. Mr. Lazarz provided guidance and education in the areas of spill preparedness and response, procedures and equipment to prevent discharge, environmental compliance, and safety training. He stressed the need for countermeasures to keep navigable waters clean and minimize shoreline impact. Impressive was the commitment to safety in the room as many had significant plans in place or gathered additional information to continue improvements.

Michelle Shrider (Washburn Marina) on behalf of the Wisconsin Marina Association gave an update on the initiatives of their membership, as well as an invitation to all to attend an upcoming meeting in Hudson, WI. The WMA has been working hard to develop Marine Technician certification programs in Technical Colleges. Mutual is the industry need for high quality workforce development and training. There seems to be a very good synergy between groups who have shared goals. While the waterways that these various Marinas serve may be quite different, the issues they are concerned about are very much the same. Environmental issues, boater safety, and a commitment to advance Clean Marina programs chief among them.

Lisa Dugan represented the Minnesota DNR well and gave the attendees an update on Sophia’s Law. Sophia’s Law if you don’t know is new, and requires that all motorboats with an ‘enclosed accommodation compartment’ must be equipped with a functioning CO detector system. You can see more on this elsewhere in this issue but in general, Lisa’s comments were well aimed at the safety of boaters, and the safety of our waterways.

In a meeting of the board of the Minnesota Clean Marina Association, current President Roxanne Rockvam reviewed plans to aggressively promote the benefits of the program to all marinas in the State. Rockvam announced meetings that are scheduled to assist marina operators who are navigating their way through the guidelines required to gain certification in the program.

While we have all attended the public facing side of a ‘Boat Show’, I think most boaters would be interested in what is going on behind the scenes at these events. I think they would be impressed and somewhat comforted knowing that here in the upper Midwest, there are industry groups working to make the boating experience safer and more enjoyable for all of us.