With a wide array of issues facing the marine industry from water quality to rampant theft at dealerships across SW Florida, SWFMIA held 2 roundtables to provide information and facilitate discussion on what the industry can and needs to do to best represent our businesses and boaters. The first roundtable was April 5th at the Crowne Plaza in Ft. Myers and the second at Feather Sound Country Club in Clearwater on April 6th. A common theme in addressing the multitude of issues our industry faces is the importance of communication. Attending our roundtables and meetings provides a great venue for discussions and offering your unique viewpoint in such a diverse industry.
Both Roundtables were kicked off by Association President, Hans Wilson. Hans discussed the importance of being united in an industry association and the interactive format for the roundtable to encourage participation. After self-introductions from everyone in attendance, Han’s provided a legislative update and discussed the role of Missy Timmins, our industry lobbyist, and the impact she plays in Tallahassee with the State Legislature. Theft and break-ins were talking points at both meetings which were facilitated by local law enforcement. Lee County has seen an influx of marine theft at dealerships dominated by lower units and marine electronics. Lt. Chris Nyce reviewed recent reports and dealers in attendance gave suggestions regarding cameras and lighting. The Clearwater region has not had a large theft issue, but it is important to be prepared and aware of the crime wave in Lee County and to look for similar trends.
The Ft. Myers Roundtable focused on the water quality issues as result of the run off from Lake Okeechobee. Phil Flood with the South Florida Water District reviewed the history of water movement discharging from Lake Okeechobee and how the waterways have changed through many years. Phil discussed the heavy rain fall we have seen of lately with Lake Okeechobee having the largest rainfall from November-January since record keeping began in 1932. Congressman Clawson’s Chief of Staff, Pat Cauley discussed efforts for land purchase to help filter and control water quality, and industry members made comment to the impact the Lake-O discharge has made on their businesses. Captain Daniel Andrews with Captains for Clean waters and Rob Wilson with River Watch both spoke and discussed their group’s efforts in Tallahassee during this past Legislature session.
The Clearwater Roundtable hosted David Dashman with USF whose program provides free safety & health consultations to help businesses be in compliance with OSHA. Dave reviewed the program and many of the hazards in the marine industry that his inspections can help mitigate. The consultation can assist employers in developing or maintaining effective safety and health management programs. Visit http://usfoticenter.org/ for more info.
Kevin Carlan, SWFMIA Chairman of the Tampa Bay Region, passionately urged all in attendance at the Clearwater Roundtable to help grow SWFMIA’s membership in Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties. Kevin discussed his frustration of sector separation with Red Snapper and the importance of our industry having a powerful voice to support recreational boating in the region.