January 6, 2021
The South Carolina Boating & Fishing Alliance (SCBFA) had quite the inaugural year as the organization traveled throughout the Palmetto State to unite and advance the industry through industry-wide awareness campaigns, advocacy, and grassroots efforts.
Despite the challenges of COVID-19, SCBFA hit the ground running and the water sailing by being the first state-based organization of its kind in the United States to combine the boating and fishing industry with the goal of “protecting and expanding boating and fishing in South Carolina.”
With the help of 40-plus founding brands and businesses, consisting of world-renowned boat builders, globally recognized fishing tackle manufacturers, dealers, and supporting businesses, along with nearly 100 grassroots individual members, the organization did just that.
In its first year, SCBFA secured tremendous support from Governor Henry McMaster, Lieutenant Governor Pamela Evette, Director of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Robert Boyles, South Carolina Secretary of Commerce Harry Lightsey, and legislative leadership.
“Our first year as an organization far exceeded any expectation I had or could have imagined,” said SCBFA Founder and CEO Gettys Brannon. “When you say boating and fishing in South Carolina, you get everybody’s attention because it’s one of the state’s favorite pastimes and top industries.”
The organization publicly launched at the beginning of the 2021 legislative session at a press conference alongside Governor McMaster and legislators from both chambers and each party.
Democratic and Republican legislators, who are also avid outdoorsmen, cast their differences aside and aimed to introduce and build the groundwork for bipartisan legislation for the benefit and growth of the $5.1 billion industry.
“Raising awareness of this expanding industry is our top priority,” said SCBFA Chairman Chris Butler. “We must have a seat at the table when decisions are made that impact the boating and fishing industry and we appreciate each of the legislators that have allowed us to do so.”
SCBFA worked with lawmakers to begin the process of eliminating motor titles — the first step to decreasing boat owners’ tax burden to become competitive with other states — address abandoned boats and allow electronic licenses and permits.
“In a time of such heavy partisanship and lack of results in the political world, it’s refreshing to see legislators from different regions, parties, and backgrounds work together and seek common ground,” said SCBFA Vice President of Government Relations Todd Atwater.
Most notably, the organization helped stop the notorious “30 by 30” legislation, which would have established the precedent of restricting the use of 30% of all lands and waters across the state by 2030.
SCBFA wants to see lawmakers introduce sensible conservation-related legislation, but not at the cost of the boating and fishing activity.
“The balance between the economy and ecology is more important in this industry than any other in our state,” said Brannon.
As the new legislative session begins, SCBFA is collaborating with legislators on industry-led boating and fishing laws including boater safety, responsible wake laws, abolishing motor titles and taxes, workforce development, and historic conservation funding that will promote conservation infrastructure such as public boat access, rehabilitated fish hatcheries, healthy habitat restoration, and stocking programs.
“Though we are pushing legislation for the prosperity of an industry, we are truly pushing legislation for the sake of the state because when the boating and fishing industry thrives, so do the state and its people,” said Atwater.
In South Carolina, 1 in 10 residents have a registered boat, ranking in the top 10 nationally, and over 725,000 fishing licenses are sold each year, contributing $6.7 million to South Carolina’s economy.
The boating and fishing industry supports a combined 23,000 jobs, according to merged data from the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) and the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), both of which endorsed the organization at its inception.
SCBFA also partnered with Global Eco Adventures (GEA) and the South Carolina Floodwater Commission to launch the Back Your Water campaign, which promotes and advocates for the conservation of crucial bodies of water around the state.
“The Alliance is an important voice in protecting our state’s waterways,” said GEA founding director and South Carolina Floodwater Commission Chairman Tom Mullikin. “Nobody knows what’s going on in our waterways like our boaters and anglers, so we need their expertise, and we want it,” said Mullikin.
In addition to pushing for industry-focused policy and helping lead conservation efforts across the state, the organization took to the streets, and even a football game, with its grassroots efforts.
On September 25, SCBFA partnered with Gamecock Athletics to host the first-of-its-kind Boating, Fishing, Football Weekend, where fans could see one of South Carolina’s top industries on display, boating and fishing, which provides the state with 23,000 jobs.
“The first-ever boating and fishing showcase at Williams-Brice was one of the most successful Gamecock Village marketing activations we have participated in. It added another level of excitement for the fans,” said Eric Nichols, University of South Carolina Associate Athletic Director and Chief Marketing Officer.
An estimated 20,000 fans engaged with boating and fishing manufacturers, dealers, and suppliers, which comprise 3.1% of the state’s gross domestic product.
“We were thrilled to make a bit of history with the first-ever boating and fishing event at Williams-Brice,” said Butler. “Thousands of football fans were able to see iconic brands of boats and fishing tackle, and most were unaware that they are made right here in South Carolina. Raising awareness of our industry and showcasing our products will continue to be a major focus of SCBFA.”
Throughout the year, SCBFA has met the many men and women who make this industry special: dealers, manufacturers, and accessory brands, as well as the many anglers and boaters to whom they benefit.
SCBFA is anticipating another successful year in its promotion and protection of the industry through outreach and advocacy efforts with industry leaders, state and federal leaders, and the people of South Carolina.
We need you to protect and expand boating and fishing in the Palmetto State!
With your $25 individual contribution, you will receive an SCBFA-branded neck gaiter and sticker, along with our exclusive e-newsletter.
Please note this membership is for individuals. If you would like to contribute on behalf of your business, please email: email@example.com
Contributions to the organization are not deductible for federal income tax purposes as charitable contributions.