July 1 declared 'National Boating Day'

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With the arrival of peak boating season, the U.S. Senate passed S. Res. 199 late last week, declaring July 1 as National Boating Day. The resolution recognizes the important role recreational boating and the boating industry play in the lives of the nation's 70 million boaters and the U.S. economy. The Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF), which works to increase participation in both boating and fishing, is encouraged by recent program statistics that show growing interest in the sport, despite the current economic situation.

"We're happy to see boating get its own day of recognition," said RBFF president and CEO Frank Peterson. "Over the past several weeks, we've seen a 302 percent increase in traffic to the boating pages on our Take Me Fishing campaign Web site and more than 25,000 people have entered our 'Catch A Boat' promotion with the hopes of taking home a brand new boat, motor and trailer. Participation in boating helps sustain our nation's waterways, contributing money to fish and wildlife management efforts, and we are encouraged by these numbers."

A new report from the National Marine Manufacturers Association shows that there are more than 17 million recreational boats on the water, of which nearly 95 percent are less than 26 feet in length. The 2008 Recreational Boating Statistical Abstract, which was released last week, also reveals that contrary to boating's reputation as only for the 'affluent,' 76 percent of boat owners have a household income less than $100,000 per year. Other highlights from NMMA's data include:

•    The U.S. recreational boating industry contributed $33.6 billion to the U.S. economy in 2008
•    Adult participation in boating increased six percent to an estimated 70.1 million from 66.4 million
•    There were 704,820 new boats sold in 2008 (including powerboats, sailboats, canoes, kayaks and personal watercraft)
•    There were 203,00 new powerboats sold in 2008 for a dollar value of $7.6 billion.