Marine advisory boards share ideas at summit January 27, 2016
The Broward County Marine Advisory Committee hosted a Broward County Marine Summit on January 12th that brought together the nine marine advisory boards within Broward County and their related partners and gave them the opportunity to share issues and ideas.
Several of the advisory groups are newly developed, and the format allowed them to learn from the experience of the more established ones.
Phil Purcell spoke on behalf of the Marine Industries Association of South Florida, giving an update on the relevant activities of the association. He highlighted the importance of the U.S. Coast Guard in establishing regulations for the FEC railroad bridge in implementing a standard operating procedure that assures it stays in the open position 60 minutes of every 120 minutes, protecting the navigability of the New River and access to the boatyards regardless of an increase in freight and commuter train traffic.
He also explained the passage of the sales tax cap on refits and repairs in the last legislative session and how it will give a competitive edge in attracting business to Florida and positioning Broward County to continue to protect the annual $11.5 billion economic impact and 136,000 jobs the marine industry represents to the community. He concluded by highlighting the unique position of South Florida as the Oceanographic Research Hub, with a strong collections of schools with programs dedicated to ocean studies and the world’s 3rd largest reef off our shores, which is important for both science and the recreational marine industry.
The Broward County Marine Advisory Committee gave an overview of its unique position as the administrator of two funds designed to enhance the boating experience in the county.
The Broward Boating Improvement Program (BBIP) is funded by noncommercial vessel registration fees and is based on a percentage of the actual registration fees collected. The BBIP provides funds for projects such as the construction of boat ramps, recreational channel marking, public docking and mooring facilities, access roads and parking for public launching facilities, derelict vessel removal, and recreational boating-related support facilities and utilities. The annual allocations for this program are approximately $450,000. Since its inception in 1974, the MAC has recommended $16.4 million for the development of recreational marine facilities and projects. All the municipalities in the room had been beneficiaries of these funds, and the group reviewed the recent projects like the Dania Beach Marina and Deerfield Island.
The Enhanced Marine Law Enforcement Grant (EMLEG) program is funded by a 50% increase in vessel registration fees approved by the County Commission under the Local Option Vessel Registration Fee provisions of the Florida State Statutes. The EMLEG program provides funds to local police agencies and organizations to enhance marine law enforcement and improve boating safety in Broward County. The program primarily allows additional nighttime patrols and during periods of high boater use during events. The annual allocations for this program are approximately $700,000. Since its inception in 1994, the MAC has recommended $13.3 million for enhanced marine law enforcement and boating safety projects.
The publishing of 2016 Broward Safe Boating Guide is also a project utilizing BBIP funds. The U.S. Power Squadron reports that the goal is to have it available by the second quarter of this year.
At the conclusion it was agreed the summit was a valuable event and should be repeated annually. And the Broward County Marine Advisory Committee was recognized for its leadership role in the meeting.