Congressional representatives are increasingly learning about the economic impact that megayacht owners and the industry have. It’s in large part due to the work of the U.S. Superyacht Association http://www.ussuperyacht.com (USSA), the trade organization representing the large-yacht industry on American soil. Next week, as part of the annual American Boating Congress (ABC), the USSA will meet with key legislators, making them aware of issues that need attention. Diane M. Byrne, MegayachtNews.com’s editor, will be among the USSA members directly educating them.
Now in its second decade, ABC is a marine-industry political and legislative event. Hundreds of yacht builders, designers, engine manufacturers, and more visit both the Senate and the House of Representatives. One-on-one as well as group meetings take place. “Lobbyists get all the headlines, but when it comes to influencing Congress, few people are as effective as their own constituents,” Byrne says. “More to the point, few people are as effective as employers and employees in their own districts.”
From May 9 to 11, the USSA has secured dozens of meetings with House and Senate representatives. Furthermore, it has meetings set with high-ranking Coast Guard and Customs & Border Protection officials. Byrne and the USSA will focus attention on a few key issues, including:
- Increasing the recreational vessel gross-tonnage limit. U.S. law defines a yacht as a vessel whose volume is a maximum of 300 gross tons. American-owned megayachts exceeding that can fly the U.S. flag, but only if registered as commercial vessels, versus recreational ones. Since commercial craft have a host of different standards, it’s not an apples-to-apples exchange. Therefore, the USSA is garnering support for changing the law—which dates to 1920—to permit a 500-gross-ton threshold. (For more detailed information this law and USSA’s longtime efforts to change it, see “U.S. Flagging Rules May Finally Get Update.”)
- Simplifying the process for megayacht crew to obtain proper visas to work in the United States. In conjunction with other marine-industry groups, the USSA is educating legislators that, in several instances, foreign crewmembers have been turned away at points of entry. This, despite having the proper visas in hand.
“The superyacht industry is a $35.9 billion industry internationally, which supports more than 6,000 companies and roughly 260,000 high-paying skilled jobs around the world,” said USSA President Kitty McGowan. “As such an economic powerhouse, protecting and growing the superyacht industry is in everyone’s best interests, and the USSA is proud to participate first-hand in the legislative process and act as the voice of the U.S. superyacht industry during the American Boating Congress.”