Boating Industry

April 2016

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Page 19 of 43 20 | Boating Industry | April 2016 MONTHLY RESEARCH age people from fi shing," said one New Jersey boat dealer. At the same time, local permitting chal- lenges are making growing business diffi cult, a challenge cited by marina owners, dealers and manufacturers in this year's survey. "The time and expense of permitting basic operations and maintenance are terribly high and uncertain," said a Massachusetts-based supplier. "Investment in growth seems impos- sible to achieve." A marina construction fi rm echoed that sentiment: "Regulation at the state, [federal] and in some cases local departments take at least one year for simple projects such as re- pairs or replacements exactly as the dock is presently built. A new facility or changes to [an] existing facility will add anywhere from six months to three years. The typical new marina project takes two to four years to permit. Our industry is just behind getting a nuclear plant permitted!" The most important result of all these chal- lenges is that they are driving up the cost of doing business, and making boating less af- fordable. Dozens of respondents said they are concerned that government policies are mak- ing boating unattainable for the middle class. "Environmental policies are increasing prices of boating beyond the average boater's budget," said a Virginia dealer, in a representa- tive comment. For more examples of these concerns and other top issues, see the sidebar on p. 21. Ethanol No. 1 worry Ethanol and the Renewable Fuel Standard are clearly the top concerns among regula- tory issues. Sixty percent of respondents said they are very concerned about challenges ethanol poses to their business, while another 35 percent are at least somewhat concerned. Ethanol was also picked by the most readers – 28 percent – as their top government and regulatory issue. In their comments, readers mentioned a number of concerns, but the most notable worry is the potential for increased damage to boat engines and other components from misfueling with E15. The result, many said, will be boaters getting discouraged and leav- ing the sport. "Repair costs have been rising and the ad- ditional expense of fuel system repairs due to ethanol has driven many from boat owner- ship," said a Florida dealer. "Less boat owners means less business." Environmental regulations were second on the list of concerns, with 18 percent citing it as the most important issue for their business. Forty-three percent are very concerned about it and 98 percent are at least somewhat con- cerned – the highest total for any issue. Ethanol, RFS top list of concerns BY JONATHAN SWEET From tax policy to environmental regulations to the Renewable Fuel Standard, the govern- ment is making it more diffi cult to do business in the boating industry, say a majority of Boat- ing Industry readers. That's according to the latest Boating Indus- try reader survey of dealers, manufacturers, sup- pliers and others in the industry. We asked the readers of our print and digital products about their top issues and gathered their insights on the role of government in the boating industry. The survey was conducted by email in February. Fifty-six percent of readers said they are very concerned about the role of the government in their business, while another 31 percent said they were at least somewhat concerned. A majority of respondents – 56 percent – said that government regulations have specifi cally hurt their ability to grow their business in the last year. They cited a variety of specifi c examples, but the most common impediments were envi- ronmental regulations, restricted access to fi sh- eries, local zoning or permitting issues, and tax policies that have hurt their customers. "The State of California just keeps closing more and more areas to fi shing," said a Califor- nia-based manufacturer. "The only boat launch for miles in Newport Beach is closed 6 to 8 times over the summer for other events and the push for more and more environmental restric- tions is killing us." That lack of access is an issue in many other parts of the country as well (see the Keep Flor- ida Fishing article on p. 24), and several other respondents voiced concern about the limits being put on boaters and anglers from closed waterways to shortened seasons. "Overly excessive policies … that have re- duced size limits and fi shing seasons discour- Regulations still big worry for industry CURRENT CONDITIONS February 41.5 January 61.2 FUTURE EXPECTATIONS February 54.5 January 70.9 BOATING INDUSTRY We also asked readers about their views on the current health of the market as we do every month. In this regular monthly feature, we track the optimism of Boating Industry readers to help us get a read on the industry. A reading of zero means equal numbers of people are expe- riencing or expect growth as contraction, so any number above zero is a positive. February's results indicated continued year- over-year growth for Boating Industry readers, but at a slower pace than in January. As a group, respondents are also less optimistic about the future, with fewer predicting growth for the next three months than in January. INDEX

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