Great Lakes Boating Federation Points Out Major Flaws in National Ocean Council Implementation Plan
CHICAGO - APRIL 10, 2012 - In written comments to the federal government's National Ocean Council (NOC) on its Draft Implementation Plan, the Great Lakes Boating Federation (GLBF), the voice of Great Lakes boaters, pointed out that recreational boaters and sportsfishermen were omitted from the discussion. This is totally unacceptable for a plan that proposes joint actions for protecting and preserving our nation's oceans, coasts, and the Great Lakes. GLBF recommends that the NOC, which prepared the Draft Implementation Plan, address this omission and actively seek members from the boating and sportsfishing community to provide needed input.
GLBF pointed out that recreational boating and sportsfishermen represent more than 12 million registered boaters, including an estimated 4.3 million in the Great Lakes alone, with an estimated annual economic impact of $36 billion, including an estimated $9 billion from the Great Lakes. Recreational boaters and sportsfishermen are major users of our oceans, coasts, and the Great Lakes. Any plan that does not discuss their impact on our nations oceans and the Great Lakes is a major oversight.
If the NOC plan is to truly represent the needs of boaters and anglers, GLBF recommends that the federal government promote, grow and develop programs that will lead to a sustainable future for sportsfishing and recreational boating. The first step in this process is for the federal government to undertake a national access feasibility report on recreational boating and fishing that will provide the factual information needed to make informed decisions for the future.
With the demand for fossil fuels decreasing among boaters, GLBF also recommends that the federal government look at new and renewable energy as sources of funds to supplement the funds coming from current Wallop-Breaux Amendments that use fuel tax revenues to grow and sustain the boating industry. Creating a sustainable future also means that the federal government and its agencies should devote more time and money to specific projects that will grow recreational boating and sportsfishing. To cite one notable example, GLBF believes that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers must review its annual budget and devote significantly more money to the dredging of small harbors for recreational boaters.
In overseeing the spatial marine miles that dot our nation oceans, coasts, and the Great Lakes, the federal government needs to look beyond algae blooms, floating plastic debris, Arctic environmental problems and numerous pollutants and pathogens that diminish water quality. There are pressing problems involving the Great Lakes, and GLBF says the Draft Implementation Plan overlooks them. That's why GLBF recommends that the federal government adequately address the invasive species problem plaguing the Great Lakes, paying particular attention to stopping the invasion of the Asian Carp into the Great Lakes.
Because there are so many competing uses for our nation's oceans, coasts, and the Great Lakes, GLBF recommends that the federal government oversee and prioritize them. A good example to follow in this regard is the Dept of the Interior's Fish and Wildlife Services, which oversees competing interests on our nation's water ways and creates a fair and just management policy. Furthermore, GLBF believes that all stakeholders should have their needs addressed in any type of joint action plans regarding oceans, coasts, and the Great Lakes, just not certain users of these natural resources.
GLBF, representing an estimated 4.3 million boaters, is the voice of boaters, and will stay on top of the next implementation plan proposed by NOC. For more information on GLBF, contact Ned Dikmen, chairman at 312-266-8408 or visit www.greatlakesboatingfederation.com