AMORY – Sen. Roger Wicker and Congressman Trent Kelly visited NauticStar Aug. 18 to discuss the Modern Fish Act; recreational fishing and boating industry priorities; and how the pandemic is impacting it with its president, Scott Womack.
“It was an honor for our NauticStar team to host Senator Wicker and Congressman Kelly today,” Womack stated in a press release. “We want to particularly thank Senator Wicker for his leadership in driving the Modern Fish Act through the finish line. Senator Wicker and Congressman Kelly’s interest in our industry shows how they support the NauticStar mission to bring a unique boating experience to everyone. Our employees really enjoyed sharing how they bring the most versatile lineup of boats to the market every day.”
In 2018, Wicker led the charge to pass the Modern Fish Act, the first-ever piece of legislation focused on sportfishing to be signed into law recognizing recreational and commercial fishing are fundamentally different endeavors. It adds more appropriate management tools for policymakers to use in managing federal recreational fisheries.
“He has been a champion for marine conservation and recreational fishing and boating,” Womack said of Wicker.
Wicker was quick to recognize Kelly’s active role as a sportsman and an advocate for veterans’ affairs.
“He’s a fan of job creation, and that’s what we’re here about today. This industry has customers, fans and American job creators all over the country. It’s important to realize what a far reach a manufacturing plant in northeast Mississippi can have across the country,” Wicker said.
According to the National Marine Manufacturers Association, recreational boating has an annual economic statewide impact of $1.8 billion, supporting more than 8,000 jobs and 208 businesses across the state. NauticStar, itself, employs 250 people.
There are currently more than 127,000 registered boats in Mississippi.
“I enjoyed speaking with employees at NauticStar this morning and seeing how the recreational boating industry is recovering in Mississippi. This industry supports thousands of jobs in our state and has a large economic impact. I am continuing to work on a number of policies that will help more Americans get out on the water to fish, play or relax,” Wicker said in the press release.
Kelly spoke highly of the local workforce and residual impacts industries have on other businesses.
“When we bring someone here that’s not necessarily a small business, they have all these other people who supply parts and pieces that are right here in Amory. That’s what people may not see when you bring in economic development. I think we have the best workforce in America, and companies are seeing that,” he said.
Womack emphasized boats made in Amory are made for American recreational and sportfishing markets.
“The recreational boat building industry is uniquely American. Ninety five percent of the boats used in America are made in America,” he said.
Last week’s tour was coordinated by Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Sportfishing Policy, of which NauticStar is a member.
“We thank Senator Wicker and Congressman Kelly for visiting NauticStar and hearing from the men and women of the industry on the importance of recreational fishing and boating to their families, their community and to Mississippi,” Angers said.