MRAA tackles workforce with Congressional Boating Caucus


By: Mickaela Giese

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Marine Retailers Association of the Americas, in partnership with the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) and the Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) went to Capitol Hill on January 31st to address Congressional Boating Caucus members and invited legislative staff for the annual State of the Industry Briefing.

The Congressional Boating Caucus is an informal bipartisan group of US Senators and Representatives formed in 1989 to advocate for the interests of the recreational boating industry.

Speaking to the group gathered at Russell Senate Office meeting room, MRAA President Matt Gruhn spoke to the shortage of qualified marine service workers, and the need for elected leaders to continue to ‘broaden’ their thinking about what education means in America.

“We need more support for apprenticeships and other technical trade programs, and encourage more people to make recreational boating their career,” said Gruhn. “We’re looking for support from Congress in creating more programs that support apprenticeships, on-the-job training and technical education, in general, as well as greater access to funding for employers and job seekers to gain the training they need.”

NMMA President Thomas J. Dammrich presented a report on the recreational boating industry’s financial rebound, or “long road back,” said Dammrich, since the Great Recession. With the economy doing well, sales are up and reports from winter boat shows are positive. He also shared ideas on what Congress can do to support this important sector of U.S. manufacturing. NMMA also addressed saltwater fisheries management as well as the issue over aluminum sheet imports.

As the boat owner’s advocate, BoatUS Vice President of Government Affairs Chris Edmonston spoke about the need for legislator’s support for recreational boating access, and specifically, the Water Resources and Development Act, which helps maintain the navigability of waterways by providing funds for dredging. Edmonston also spoke to the success of boating safety education in reducing accidents and fatalities, and the need to revamp US Coast Guard licensing to better address the needs of recreational boaters. “The current licensing system was never intended for recreational boaters,” said Edmonston.

About the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas

The Marine Retailers Association of the Americas, believes that for the marine industry to thrive, the retail organizations that interact with the boaters in their community must thrive. With that in mind, MRAA works to create a strong and healthy boating industry by uniting those retailers, providing them with opportunities for improvement and growth, and representing them with a powerful voice. For more information, you may contact them at 763-315-8043.