National Boating Federation

Recreational Boating Concerns & Issues

NBF Positions & Actions
  • NBF Supports the Position of US Sailing on Proposed Legislation in Maryland & Florida

    We support US Sailing in their position of being strongly opposed to any legislation that would limit sailors' abilities to operate boats in a manner consistent with normal operational methods and practices for any type of sailboats, from sailboards and kites to dinghies, keelboats and multihulls, inshore and offshore. We also support the position of US Sailing being strongly opposed to any legislation that would restrict the rights of sailors of any age from participation in the sport by mandating over reaching supervision, when in reality US Sailing provides effective safety and education to all of our sailing youth.

    We also agree with US Sailing that the bill as proposed would limit the rights of minors to operate small powerboats (10 hp or greater) and sailboats (10’ or longer) in salt water without direct supervision of an adult over the age of 21. We support the efforts and guidance by US Sailing to help with boating education of both powerboats and sailboats.

    US Sailing to Fight for Boater Rights...
  • Restrictions on Recreational Boating Use of our Nation's Waterways

    Whereas, millions of recreational boaters throughout the United States enjoy reasonably unfettered freedom to navigate, utilize and enjoy our nation's waterways, and certain authorities have taken it upon themselves to attempt to limit or restrict those freedoms, the National Boating Federation advocates that the federal government through legislation and regulations, and that all states within the United States pass legislation and regulations limiting the powers of local municipalities to restrict the safe, free recreational boating usage throughout United States navigable waters and non-navigable waters.

    Additionally, the National Boating Federation urges great caution be exercised in balancing interests involved in regulating, limiting, or abrogating the recreational use of our nation's waterways.  If and when that balance favors regulating, limiting  or abrogating such recreational boating usages, it should be the stated policy and goal of the regulating authority to return the waterway to recreational usage as soon as is practicably possible.  Permanent restrictions on the recreational use of our nation's waterways should be subjected to the utmost scrutiny, and should only be imposed when absolutely necessary for National Security or substantial negative environmental impacts are identified with specificity. (October 7, 2016)

  • Lake Erie Restoration Initiative

    NBF supports the Lake Erie Restoration Initiative in their efforts to preserve Lake Erie's water quality for this generation and for the future generations yet to be born. Continued erosion of the lake does not bode well for both recreational boating and fishing on Lake Erie in particular and on the Great Lakes in general.

    Read the letter from NBF President Fred Poppe to President James Stouffer of the Lake Erie Restoration Initiative...

  • New Legislation Addresses Major Threats to Recreational Fishing
    (Courtesy of the Washington Offices of the NMMA and PWIA)

    Recently, Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL) introduced the Sportsmen's Heritage Act of 2012 with the support of Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus leaders. This legislative package addresses two very significant threats to recreational fishing: attempts to ban lead fishing tackle and loss of access to public lands. To learn more, read the full bill here.

    The Sportsmen's Heritage Act of 2012 includes language which seeks to prevent a federal ban on lead in recreational fishing tackle and will ensure that any future regulations on fishing tackle are established based on scientific fact instead of unjustified, unsubstantiated petitions. Another major threat to recreational fishing that is addressed in the Act is lack of access. In fact, it is the primary reason that keeps anglers from enjoying a day on the water. The Sportsmen's Heritage Act of 2012 will increase access to angling, hunting and recreational shooting on federal lands by prioritizing these activities within agencies' land management plans.

    Read the letter to Rep. Frank D. Lucas from President Fred Poppe supporting HR4089-The Sportsmen's Heritage Act of 2012.

  • Survey of Published Data & Reports on Blended Fuels in Marine Applications

    E15 Gas Brings Conflict to Pumps - May 3, 2012

    Petition for Rulemaking Requiring Availability of Gasoline Blends of Less Than or Equal to 10% Ethanol

    BRP Engineer Testifies on Dangers of E15   (54 Pages)

    CBYCA E15 Position Letter to Representative Steny Hoyer

    New article sheds light on dangers of E15 to Midwestern wild pheasant

    John Arway, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission recently penned an article noting the potential harm to wild pheasant populations in the Midwest in addition to boaters in Pennsylvania due to E15. Arway explains that hunters, anglers and boaters should be equally concerned about the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) which requires that ethanol be used as an additive to fuel. The effectiveness of the RFS when implemented was contingent on a steady increase in gasoline consumption. However, for the first time in U.S history, the demand for gasoline actually began to decline in 2008. Despite a decrease in demand, the law still required a fixed amount of ethanol be produced and added to gasoline, causing the concentration of ethanol per gallon to increase.

    As the boating industry is well aware, marine engines are not currently designed to run on high levels of ethanol, and doing so in increased quantities may result in severe damage to the engine. In addition, wild pheasant farmers are required to devote more land (15 million acres last year) to the production of corn in order to keep up with the demand for ethanol. This pushes pheasant populations out of their natural habitat, creates erodible land and requires increased use of fertilizers. Arway says, "NMMA, along with other fishing and boating organizations are advocates for boat owners across the country and continue to lobby Congress and the EPA in order to challenge the ethanol mandate." Read the full article, here.

    A Shotgun Marriage? Ethanol and Old Outboard Boat Engines

    ALEXANDRIA, VA -- Ever since E10 gasoline (gas containing 10% ethanol) became widely available several years ago, the nation's largest recreational boat owners group, BoatUS, has received hundreds of calls and emails complaining about boat engine problems. The majority of complaints concern older outboard motors, those made before about 1990. BoatUS' Seaworthy magazine asked Mercury Marine's Ed Alyanak and Frank Kelley, who between them have over 60 years of experience, to find out what's made these decades-old outboards more susceptible to ethanol's well-known problems and what owners can do.   Read more...

    NMMA and Partners Complete Second Year of Isobutanol Testing
    - June 2012

    The National Marine Manufacturers Association, Volvo Penta, Bombardier Recreational Products, the American Boat and Yacht Council and Gevo, Inc. have partnered to complete a second evaluation of isobutanol. Isobutanol has been identified as a possible alternative to E15, the high volume ethanol blend which has been proven to cause serious damage to marine engines. The test was conducted with funding from the Department of Energy which has contracted with Argonne National Labs to provide project oversight.

    This testing comes on the heels of a report issued by the United States Coast Guard (USCG) titled, Survey of Published Data and Reports on Blended Fuels in Marine Application. Read the full study here (large file size). The document is an audit of information that has been released on the effects of ethanol in marine engines and includes the Volvo and Mercury studies previously noted. The report concludes that while much information has been published on this topic, only a few have any scientific basis. However, there are serious concerns that have been raised and therefore further testing is needed. For questions, please contact John McKnight at

    Isobutanol: Marine Industry's Biofuel Savior?

    With a waiver recently approved by the Environmental Protection Agency authorizing ethanol in gasoline up to 15 percent by volume, the marine industry is looking for an alternative biofuel to what its experts say is poison to marine engines. Read more...

  • Anchoring Restrictions by Local Governmental Units Surrounding Municipal Mooring Fields
    The National Boating Federation advocates that all states within the United States pass legislation limiting the powers of local municipalities to restrict the safe, free anchoring of recreational vessels throughout the states’ navigable waters, while anchored outside of established mooring fields. Except in designated mooring fields, and within reasonable anchoring set-back requirements surrounding such mooring fields, municipalities should have no authority to regulate where typical cruising vessels may anchor.

    Read the entire position statement regarding state enacted boat anchoring laws...

  • Local Area Maritime Security Committees
    At the Annual Meeting of the NBF held on March 25-26 2011 , the importance of Local Area Safety Committees was discussed. These committees are formed by the U. S. Coast Guard’s Sector Commanders. Unless the recreational boating community is represented in these committees, the interests and legitimate concerns of recreational boaters may not be considered if and when maritime security issues arise, and which may restrict recreational boating activities.

    It is the recommendation of the NBF that all recreational boating organizations involve themselves in these committees.

    For your community’s U. S. Coast Guard Area Maritime Security Committee Point of Contact, please contact NBF.   
    Take me to the "Contact NBF" page...

    Recreational boaters -- get involved! Don’t miss this opportunity.

  • Mandatory Life Jacket Wear
    In light of a recent recommendation by the National Boating Safety Advisory Council, and by the test program undertaken by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, the National Boating Federation reviewed its recommendation on mandatory life jacket wear at the meeting in Dallas, TX on October 8, 2011.

    In a letter from NBF President Fred W. Poppe to Rear Admiral James Watson, Director, Marine Safety, Security & Stewardship, USCG:

    "As you know, NBSAC’s resolution recommended that the U. S. Coast Guard initiate a project to require mandatory life jacket wear on vessels under 18 feet in length while underway, subject to appropriate exemptions which are to be determined. Our resolution of support of NBSAC Resolution #2011-87-01 was approved by our Executive Committee at its Semi-Annual Meeting held on 8 October 2011.  Our mission is to promote safe boating through education¸ and it advocates for favorable boating legislation, regulations, and best practices. Within these parameters¸ we support the U. S. Coast Guard’s Strategic Plan of the National Recreational Boating Safety Program."

    Download the NBSAC (Resolution Number 2011-87-01) "Appropriate Regulations for Life Jacket Wear by Recreational Boaters" Resolution...

    USACE Study: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Test Program

    Excerpt from the National Boating Safety Advisory Council (NBSAC) Meeting on April 1-2, 2011

  • America's Waterway Watch
    A waterborne terrorist attack within the United States is a distinct possibility. When it occurs, such an attack will most likely be carried out by a small, recreational type vessel. That attack will have a profound impact on recreational boating. One can envision restrictions on hours of operation of one’s craft, perhaps limiting the destinations of one’s trip, filing of a float plan that must be adhered to, operator licensing, among other consequences, many of which will be unpredictable.

    NBF Position:

    Participation in America’s Waterway Watch Program by the recreational boating community must become every boater’s responsibility. It is the one way, and perhaps the best way, in which we as recreational boaters can help avert a waterborne terrorist attack.

    To learn more about America’s Waterway Watch Program, or to learn what to watch for visit :

    To report any unusual activities on or near the water, call 877-24 WATCH   (877-249-2824)

    To keep current on news about America’s Waterway Watch Program, visit:

    Join your Local Area Maritime Security Committee. For further information on these committees, visit our web site @, click on the Contact Us button on the top of the page and send us an e-mail. NBF will respond with the contact information for your area.

  • Supports universal Boater Safety Education and reciprocity in all 50 States - but not licensing

  • Support programs which provide retention of existing boating access facilities and obtaining increased future access

  • Strongly advocate permanent funding for the Aquatic Resources Trust Fund (Wallop-Breaux)

  • Support pump-out facilities at marinas and yacht basins under the Clean Vessel Act

  • Support storage of fuel at marine storage facilities

  • Prohibiting eminent domain for private business

Memorandum of Understanding

National Association of State Boating Law Administrators and the National Boating Federation
View or Download the MOU...
View the photo of Ev Tucker signing the MOU with NASBLA President Jeff Johnson...

National Water Safety Congress and the National Boating Federation
View or Download the MOU...

Safe Kids Worldwide and the National Boating Federation
View or Download the MOU...

Western States Boating Administrators Association and the National Boating Federation
View or Download the MOU...