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EBA General Assembly October 2018

The autumn 2018 General Assembly of the European Boating Association was held in Helsinki, Finland on the 19 and 20 October 2018. 20 Members Organisations were represented at the meeting. On 19 October the General Assembly was joined by representatives from the HELCOM Secretariat and Keep the Archipelago Tidy Association.

The General Assembly formally approved the budget for 2019 and agreed that there should be no increase in membership fees.

Draft position statements on Cruising Boat Tourism on Inland Waterways, the EU Port Waste Reception Directive and Marine litter were presented to the General Assembly for consideration.

The General Assembly adopted the position statement Cruising Boat Tourism on Inland Waterways. The purpose of the position statement is to highlight to regulators the contribution which boats cruising on the inland waterways for tourism purposes make to local economies and to seek to ensure that waterways used for tourism and other recreational purposes are properly maintained. It also indicates the importance of minimising the regulatory burden for such vessels.

The EBA Position Statement on the EU Port Waste Reception Directive highlights the seemingly unintended consequences of the proposed revised definition of a port in the updated EU Directive. This position was also adopted by the General Assembly.

The EBA position statement on marine litter was also adopted by the General Assembly. The EBA has been alert to the issues surrounding marine litter for some time. The recreational boating community by its nature has a strong affinity with the marine environment and reducing the impact of its activities to an absolute minimum is a high priority. However, as recreational boating is not a significant contributor of marine litter, action by the EBA is focused on ensuring that proper reception facilities for litter are provided in harbour and marinas to facilitate the responsible disposal of litter by recreational boaters.

The final report of the Working Group on Antifouling and Biocides was received and accepted by the General Assembly. The report provided the EBA with a single source for information on regulations in member countries relating to antifouling and biocides. The General Assembly also considered a draft position statement on hull fouling. The purpose of this position was to indicate the need for effective methods to reduce hull fouling. It highlights the dilemma facing recreational boaters given that preventing the spread of invasive non-native species is considered to be of high importance, but traditional anti-fouling paint is thought to damage the environment and is therefore simultaneously being more closely regulated and gradually becoming less effective.

EBA position statements on Coastal and Maritime Tourism and Windfarms, had been in place for five years and were therefore reviewed by the General Assembly to ensure they remained valid. Updated versions of the both position statements were re-approved by the General Assembly. The substance of the position statements remained unchanged.

Brexit’s impact on European Boaters was discussed by the General Assembly and consideration was given to steps EU27 boaters, that keep their boat in the UK, might need to take in the event of a no-deal Brexit to ensure that their vessel retained Union status.

The EBA continued to consider the way modern lifestyles are changing the way people own and use recreational craft and how boating clubs and facilities will need to adapt in the future. Irish Sailing and Fédération Française de Voile each gave an interesting presentation on their experience and their approach for the future.

A briefing on the results of the Norwegian Boating Survey, which focused on safety at sea, was received by the General Assembly. This was the second edition of the survey and it was therefore possible to draw interesting comparisons with the first version which had been presented in 2012.

Updates on other subjects of interest were received by the General Assembly. These included the decision taken by the Court of Justice of the European Union in relation to the cases regarding the supply of marked diesel to pleasure craft against the UK and Ireland, the EU Water Legislation Fitness Check and developments surrounding End of Life Boats and the common curriculum for skippers of small commercial vessels within the context of the European Commission Coastal and Maritime Tourism study. The General Assembly also received reports on the various international meetings (e.g. IMO, World Sailing, UNECE & CESNI) that had been attended in the preceding 6 months.

The closure of the General Assembly marked the end of the first term of office for the serving President, Willem Dekker of the Koninklijk Nederlands Watersport Verbond and, as is permitted by the EBA Constitution, Willem was reappointed as President for a further term of 4 years without ballot.

Information on the work of the EBA is available on the EBA website and the criteria and cost of membership, for potential new members is available on the EBA website.

Next EBA General Assembly meeting: 5 and 6 April 2019, St. Julian’s, Malta.