Don't miss the industry's most important political and legislative event of the year!


2018 American Boating Congress Issue Workshops, Wednesday, May 9

Policies Most Impacting the Boating Industry and Your Business NOW, and How You Can Affect Change


Meeting Room 3

1:40p.m. – Putting Out the Welcome Mat for Foreign Flagged Yachts
Large, foreign flagged recreational vessels visiting U.S. marinas that are being refitted at U.S. boatyards represent a tremendous amount economic activity, including job creation. The annual operating budget for a 140’ yacht exceeds two million dollars. However, for foreign flagged recreational vessels to visit the U.S., the crews must be issued the appropriate Visas, and the yacht may need a cruising license. These hurdles diminish the U.S.’s global competiveness in the yachting sector, ultimately impacting U.S. jobs and our industry.

A panel of representatives from Customs and Border Patrol, Department of State , and the boating industry will address the intricacies of getting the correct Visas issued, operating under a cruising license in U.S. waters, and the regulatory policies that surround them.

2:30p.m. – Modernizing Recreational Fishing Saltwater Policy
11 million saltwater anglers take to the water each year, and it’s time to update policies governing recreational anglers and impacting boaters nationwide. This session covers the Modern Fish Act - a crucial bill that increases fishing access and conservation, modernizes fisheries management and improves data collection. Hear from angling experts on this important legislation that impacts the entire industry’s sustainability, and learn what you can do ensure the bill passes the House and Senate and is signed by the President this year.

3:20p.m. – Conservation and Regional Policy Issues Impacting Boating: Everglades, Aquatic Invasive Species, and Pacific Salmon
Water quality and quantity significantly impacts the ability of boaters to get out on the water, coastal communities and their economic development. For the boating industry, the restoration of Everglades in South Florida is essential to maintain ecological balance, and is vital to the health of our fisheries, habitat and water quality.

The Great Lakes are a critical water source, economic engine, and vital destination for hundreds of thousands of boaters. Yet, aquatic invasive species threaten to destroy our Great Lakes.

Pacific salmon fisheries are facing significant threats with population declines and water runs in the Central Valley. River flow management and recent droughts have impacted this critical fishery and the economic value salmon bring to California.

Learn how regional policy issues impacting the boating industry are being addressed by Congress and why the industry needs to raise their concerns to fund and support projects in key boating regions.


Mount Vernon Square A

1:40p.m. – Trade Updates from Around the Globe: North American Free Trade Agreement and Beyond

The recreational boating industry exports more than $1.3 billion in goods and services annually. As the U.S. continues negotiations on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and navigates the current threat of a trade war, our industry needs to be aware of any consequential changes that could impact the free flow of products across the globe and the U.S.

NAFTA, a trilateral agreement between the U.S., Canada and Mexico is a cornerstone for export and supply chain operations for many marine manufacturers with Canada and Mexico being two of the three top boating markets for U.S. marine products. 

Join us for a panel discussion to learn the latest on these critical trade issues and how they will impact the marine industry. Panelists are Andy Karellas, Executive Director, State International Development Organizations, John Murphy, Senior VP for International Policy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and Kellie Meiman Hock, Managing Partner, McLarty Associates. They will address the latest geopolitical factors threatening exports, provide updates on the latest NAFTA negotiations and discuss a wide spectrum of trade issues affecting the state of U.S. exports.

2:30p.m. – Trade: How Aluminum Tariffs Could Impact Your Bottom Line
Manufacturers and exporters are being faced with a triple threat on trade. President Trump’s proposal for a 10 percent worldwide tariff on aluminum has the potential to impact prices from both domestic and foreign sources. On top of it, the Department of Commerce’s investigation into aluminum sheet would further burden aluminum users with upwards of 60 percent additional tariffs, resulting in higher prices and supply shortages.

Our allies are poised to retaliate, placing import tariffs on ALL boats destined for top boating markets like the European Union. Join our expert trade counsel to learn how manufacturers can push back against these burdensome tariff proposals and how your company can effectively engage with lawmakers to illustrate the significant economic impact boating has in the U.S.

3:20p.m. – Workforce Development
It’s certainly not news that the marine industry is facing a skilled labor shortage. According to a recent assessment by the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas, 21 percent of positions in the recreational boating industry remain unfilled, 59 percent of unfilled positions are in service, and 88 percent of the open service positions are technicians. Additionally, the industry estimates that there will be 31,000 vacant positions by 2019.

Panelists will discuss recent workforce initiatives on Capitol Hill and in the Administration. Learn about the latest developments to improve apprenticeships and on the job training programs for the marine industry.


Mount Vernon Square B

1:40p.m. – Reducing Regulatory Burdens and Ensuring Business Compliance
National and international manufacturing regulations have a direct impact on your company and the cost of doing business. In 2018, marine manufacturers need to be up to speed regarding the regulations and requirements coming in the U.S. for structural composite materials and the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) styrene Residual Risk Review.

Australia recently finalized a marine emission regulation with import fees, which will go into effect July 1, 2018, and the International Marine Organization is requiring large yachts to install after-treatment systems that may not be compatible with current designs. On top of this, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) diurnal fuel system requirements kick in July 31, 2018, impacting boat manufacturing.

Receive the latest updates from the EPA and CARB, and learn about regulatory issues from countries around the world that may have impact on your business.

2:30p.m. – Water Infrastructure
The infrastructure of our nation’s waterways is vitally important to boaters and the future of the boating industry. Congress is in the midst of putting together a water infrastructure reauthorization, known as the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). Army Corps of Engineers permitting reforms, project categorization, dredging of low tonnage ports and shallow draft channels, and efforts to combat Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) are critical to the recreational boating community – all on the table in the WRDA

Panelists will discuss recent activity on WRDA legislation and how our industry’s priorities are fitting into the larger water infrastructure package.

3:20p.m. – Fuel Policy
Congress and the Administration are currently exploring ways to reform the EPA’s Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). This is the program that mandates ethanol in the fuel supply. There are a variety of options that are being discussed, all of which will have a significant impact on the recreational boating community. Will E15 be expanded in the fuel supply? Will better alternatives like biobutanol be promoted?

Panelists will discuss different options being considered for RFS reform and how the recreational boating industry will be impacted.


Welcome Lunch & Eddie Smith Manufacturer of the Year Award Presentation
Wednesday, May 9 12:30-1:30pm

Please join us as we officially kick off the 2018 American Boating Congress for a luncheon, featuring special guest speakers including Rep. Joyce Beatty (OH-3), and a special presentation of the Eddie Smith Manufacturer of the Year Award, honoring leaders in conservation. The award will be presented by Jeff Angers on behalf of the Center for Sportfishing Policy. 

Hill Prep Session
Wednesday, May 9 at 4:15p.m.

In 2018, the recreational boating industry is facing major policy decisions that will come to a head this summer and have long-term impacts on boating in the U.S., including getting the Modern Fish Act passed, stopping the year-round sale of E15, and defending our industry from domestic and global tariffs. NOW is the time to meet with and educate decision-makers on the boating industry's top priorities.

The Hill Prep Session will educate you on the current political climate, prepare you on our industry’s top issues, and give insight on how to maximize your advocacy efforts while at ABC.

New! Two-Day General Session
Thursday, May 10 8:30-9:30a.m. and Friday, May 11 8:30a.m.-Noon

New for 2018, ABC’s must-attend General Session takes place over two days, featuring high profile members of the Trump administration and leading decision makers and influencers across Capitol Hill. The General Session provides attendees with a front row seat to political insights that matter to your business and an exclusive opportunity to get your questions answered from some of the most notable names in Washington.

This year’s keynote speaker, Chris Wallace, award-winning veteran journalist and host of Fox News Sunday, will address ABC attendees during day two of the General Session.

New! Marine Industry Panel & Breakfast – the Power of Advocacy
Friday, May 11, 8:30-9:00a.m.

New for 2018, NMMA Vice President of Federal and Legal Affairs, Nicole Vasilaros, will moderate a panel of marine industry leaders as they delve into their involvement in advocacy and shed light on the impacts of their lobbying efforts on their business and the recreational boating industry.

Join us for this special luncheon and learn just how powerful YOUR advocacy can be to effect change on Capitol Hill. This is why you’re here!


Recreational Angling and Boating Reception
Wednesday, May 9, 6:30-8:30p.m.

Join us at the 20 F Street NW, an iconic rooftop overlooking the Capitol for an an opportunity to gather with fellow PAC donors, as well as meet Members of Congress and their staff to educate them on the top issues affecting the recreational boating community. For information on how to attend, please contact Erica Crocker,

Group Photo in Front of U.S. Capitol
Thursday, May 10, 9:30a.m.

Join us for an ABC group photo in front of the U.S. Capitol Building before heading off to your Hill meetings. At 9:30a.m., buses will pick up attendees from the Renaissance and drop off them off at the U.S. Capitol - East Capitol Street, between Second & Third Street.

New! Millennial Happy Hour
Thursday, May 10, 5:00-6:00p.m.

Our industry marine millennials are invited to join us for a new networking event and Q&A panel with Capitol Hill staffers. The new Millennial Happy Hour is located on Capitol Hill in Cannon House Office Building Room 122.  Please RSVP to Laura Crisler at if you would like to attend. 

Networking Reception
Thursday, May 10, 6:30-8:30p.m.

Join attendees for the 2018 ABC Networking Reception, located at Arroz, Mike Isabella's eatery specializing in Spanish & North African food and drink in beautiful surroundings.

A short walk across the street from ABC’s host hotel, the Renaissance, at 901 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC, the annual Networking Receptions is a fantastic opportunity to catch up with your peers, enjoy some great food, and take in some city sites.

Farewell & Awards Ceremony Luncheon
Friday, May 11, 12:00-1:00p.m.

Join us as we wrap up ABC 2018 for a farewell lunch and presentation of several significant industry awards including:

  • The Hammond Marine Industry Leadership Award 2018 honorees are Kris Carroll, President, Grady-White Boats, and Joan Maxwell, President, Regulator Marine. Joan Maxwell Kris Carroll
    The Hammond Marine Industry Leadership Award honors individuals who have helped the marine industry get to where it is today in terms of achieving greater industry sales, stopping unwanted government regulations or seeking needed government regulation, or otherwise helping and benefiting the whole marine industry as distinct from building one’s own company.
  • Ambassador Award – given annually to the ABC Co-host who has done the most significant promotion of ABC.
  • BoatPAC - The Champions for Growth Award – given annually to a company that has recognized the importance of BoatPAC’s mission and advocacy.