- In 1995 or thereabouts, a national initiative to fund wildlife conservation called "Teeming with Wildlife" started. The intent as we understand it was to add an excise tax to wildlife viewing related items such as backpacks, hiking boots, bird seed, canoes and kayaks. As of 2010, this initiative is still active and looking to gain momentum and FWCC is the main contact for the State of Florida. Is this another source of funding for FWCC from canoes & kayaks? Would this excise tax be levied against motorized vessels? Canoes and kayaks would pay registration plus an excise tax?
- Paddling as nature-based tourism is a clean and family oriented industry. Tourism is the number one industry in the state of Florida with nature-base tourism a huge component. Paddling promotes nature-based tourism, paddling supports tourism.
- As business owners we pay tangible tax on each and every canoe and kayak we own. We pay tax.
- Most outfitters and paddlers are property owners in their county of business and/or residence and therefore pay property tax which goes to support county boat ramps/accesses and parks.
- 99% of the outfitters buy and use fuel for their buses and vans and therefore pay fuel tax. Customers drive to the outfitters and therefore pay fuel tax. Therefore paddlers are contributing to the fuel tax distribution that FWC receives.
- As rental operations we collect sales tax on every rental therefore contributing to the economy of the state. We collect sales tax on each and every rental except tax exempt groups.
- We pay sales tax on our equipment. Most outfitters buy new canoes and kayaks each year to replace old equipment. Lifejackets, boat cushions, whistles, and paddles are usually replaced on an annual basis. As outfitters we continually support the boating industry and the economy of the state.
- Many paddlers have fishing licenses, they just choose to fish out of paddlecraft instead of motorized boats. Most paddlers are already contributing to FWC through fishing licenses. Paddlers fish, paddlers pay.
- Many outfitters already have to pay to use County Park accesses.
- Many outfitters already have to pay to use State Park accesses.
- Many outfitters already have to pay to use Division of Forestry accesses.
- Many outfitters already have to pay to use NPS accesses.
- Most outfitters do not use FWC boat ramps. There are only 200 in the state. Examples are: in DeSoto County, the larger outfitters do not use the one FWC boat ramp next to the DeSoto Marina. In Hardee County the FWC boat ramp is called "Bloody Bucket" because it is used as dumping ground for dead animals. Once a year the outfitters use that ramp because they cannot use the County ramp in Zolfo Springs because of a festival. Both ramps are not in the best of shape.
- Paddlers use conventional boat ramps but not by choice. Existing concrete ramps damage canoes and kayaks. Paddlers try to avoid standard ramps. Canoes and kayaks don't need expensive boatramps. Canoes and kayaks do not "power load" at boat ramps so there is no danger of them causing damage to a boat ramp.
- Canoes and kayaks do not pose any sort of threat to manatees, sea grass beds, other boaters, or to the environment or boating in general.
- Many paddlers own numerous canoes and kayaks in order to accommodate the wide variety of water conditions and paddling opportunities. As being required to register each of these vessels could easily result in paddlers paying far more for registration than other boaters.
- Registration would require some sort of sticker. Stickers will not adhere to the "dimpled" finish of many canoes and kayaks. Stickers would not be visible on many kayaks because of the design.
- The manpower to remove and add stickers to large fleets of canoes and kayaks on an annual basis would be cost prohibitive including the accompanying paperwork. Titles taken by the state years ago will have to be retrieved. Many canoes and kayaks don't even titles.
- Canoe and kayak retailers would need a "dealer" tag/sticker to be able to "demo" canoes and kayaks.
- If canoes and kayaks are to registered, what about bikes? Both are recreational modes of transportation and exercise. The only difference is that bikes use roads, sidewalks, and paths that require public funds to build and maintain. Canoes and kayaks utilize existing waterways that require little maintenance and that already exist.
- The proponents of canoe and kayak registration like to point to the number of canoe and kayak fatalities as a rationale for canoe and kayak registration. As the members of FPPA have not experienced or seen proof of these numbers, we do not hold that canoeing and kayaking fatalities or accidents are as dramatic as the boating industry would lead us to believe in the state of Florida.
- Canoe and kayak registration is being pushed by motorized boating interests who do not represent the paddlesports industry or individual paddlers.
Rebecca Ann (Becky) Bragg
Florida Professional Paddlesports Association (FPPA)
P.O. Box 1764
Arcadia, FL 34265