elcome to our first edition for 2006, and the first to feature our outstanding new look. Our editorial and production teams have been working overtime to give Club Marine Magazine a facelift and we hope you enjoy the new format.

Business is booming for the marine sector, as record numbers of Australians take to the water to enjoy our unique maritime environment. There are now reportedly more than 650,000 boats registered in Australia, and boat ownership has increased nationally by more than 25 per cent over the past ten years – and up to a remarkable 60 per cent in some states.

According to industry reports, there were more than 5000 new boats registered on the eastern seaboard in the month of December, 2005, alone. The 2700 companies that make their living from the marine industry now directly employ some 29,000 people and turn over more than $5.5 billion per year.

Industry legend, Bill Barry-Cotter recently raised concerns about the number of boats being imported into Australia, suggesting that whilst the industry is busy selling boats, it is busy selling imported boats, and some local manufacturers have seen their market share drop by up to 50 per cent in recent years. Barry-Cotter said: “Australian boat builders must not only strive to achieve a healthy share of the local market, they must also attain added export impetus.” It’s a case of “export or perish” for some.

The really great news here is that Barry-Cotter and many of his contemporaries are internationally renowned for building bloody great boats, and we also have some of the world’s leading manufacturers of after-market marine products right here. So much so that we are a significant exporter of boats and marine equipment, and this year we will send some $750 million dollars worth of marine goods to markets overseas.

I am very pleased to see government and industry working together to make some excellent advances towards providing support to the local manufacturing industry in a forward-looking way. Organisations such as the Australian Marine Industry Federation (AMIF), state Boating Industry Associations (BIAs) and the Australian International Marine Export Group (AIMEX) are doing great work in this area. And Federal Industry Minister, Ian McFarlane recently released a paper titled New Horizons – the Marine Industry Action Agenda, to provide a national focus for our marine industry. (For info, go to: www.industry.gov.au/marine).

The Action Agenda is intended as a blueprint to bring all the stakeholders together to tackle a range of critical issues, including the development of new and innovative product, building export markets and removing barriers to future growth, such as skills shortages, environmental and regulatory issues. By pooling the resources of the entire industry, our local manufacturers should be able to build on their international reputation and further develop both the domestic and export markets.

The big question then becomes: Who is focusing on ensuring that infrastructure for boat users keeps pace with the industry’s enhanced supply capability? Already the lack of boat ramps, fuel supply points, marina berths and storage facilities is constraining the growth of boating in this country.

From where will the investment money come to address these pressing needs? How will state and local government authorities manage the eternally conflicting pressures of development vs conservation? And how will they balance the needs of existing users of waterfront land with those of the next generation of boat owners?

While I wholeheartedly commend those who are driving the marine industry to innovate and grow, I join those who are concerned about the lack of any coordinated effort to address the desperate lack of facilities for both present and future boat users. I would welcome your input on this important issue. Please drop me a line by e-mail to: ceo@clubmarine.com.au.

Safe boating, and I hope you enjoy the mag.

Mark Bradley
Publisher and CEO
Club Marine Limited