Washington State Introduces New Pilotage Bill Easing Superyacht Access

Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire has signed Senate Bill 6171, which eases the pilotage requirements for foreign-flagged vessels. Taking effect on June 7, 2012, foreign-flagged boats up to 750 gross tons and under 200 feet can apply for a pilotage exemption. The previous legislation capped the exemption at 500 gross tons (and 200 feet).

"This legislation is one more step that we can take to making our state's world-class cruising grounds more accessible to tourists. We had continually heard from captains and charter managers that the need for a pilot kept many of these boats from visiting our area and spending money in our economy. Now that we’ve solved this, we can move on to other parts of our agenda. America’s Cup in San Francisco will mean an influx of these types of vessels to our area. As we think about this event, we are pulling out the stops to become a magnet for them,” said NMTA's President George Harris.

This priority is part of a three-pronged legislative plan to cater to bigger boats and the ancillary dollars these boats bring to a region. The other two parts of this legislative agenda include expanding the Cruising Permit for out-of-state entity-owned vessels (House Bill 1904) and adopting a sales-tax cap (House Bill 1499) similar to the cap currently in place in Florida, which generated an additional $13.46 million in direct sales tax revenue for the state in the legislation’s first year.

Buoyed by the Hebert Report (www.nmta.net/impact), which is an economic impact study that the regional boating association co-commissioned, NMTA has focused considerable resources at this boating segment. "We've always known that boating means business for the 28,000 people employed in Washington state’s marine trades industry. And time and time again, we’ve heard that our state is the one-stop shop for all things that cater to this segment." said Harris. "We are confident that we have found three pieces of legislation that will unlock $29 million for our state and bolster an area that's been hit hard by the recession."

NMTA represents 700 member companies in the recreational boating business community. Also, NMTA produces the Seattle Boat Show. For more information on NMTA, please visit: www.nmta.net.


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