This issue of registration of paddle craft, which to includes canoes, kayaks, and other non- motorized vessels, in the State of Florida is controversial from a cost-benefits standpoint. The following are just some of those reasons that registration of non-motorized boats is not a good idea.
1. Registration of non motorized craft is an anti-business tax which would have to be paid by anyone who is renting canoes, kayaks or paddle boats. Considering that some outfitters and hotels which rent boats, may have up to 100 boats, the total annual tax could be significant.
2. Registration does not make paddler safer by "tracking' them if they get lost, aid in Search & Rescue efforts, or assist with the recovery of stolen vessels. All canoes and kayaks currently have a unique number on their hull for identification, so a registration number does not add anything. A registration decal will not assist in finding a lost paddler or prevent a fatality.
3. It would be extremely difficult to run a cost effective boat registration program for small boats:
- Registration start up, implementation, and enforcement is not cost effective. The breakeven costs for a decal would require a customer price of at least $10. Therefore, to make money, the price of a boat decal would need to be at least $15 to $20 per boat.
- Many small boaters own many boats - buying, selling and trading some each year. A registration program would have to be geared to follow each of these transactions.
4. There is no guarantee that any money collected thru non-motorized boat registration will go towards any infrastructure regarding the paddle sport community because any government entity which legislates the requirement for small boat registration can easily change where the money goes and increase the fees to be paid.
5. Non-motorized boat registration is another tax -pure and simple. Paddling is a human powered endeavor and should only be regulated if we are also considering regulating bicycles and surf boards.
6. Non-motorized boat registration would hurt our tourist industry. The need for paddle craft decals would require hotels and and outfitters to pay registration fees for many boats and would discourage Florida tourists from bring their own boats to Florida to paddle.
7. Paddlers already pay user fees to enter parks and to launch. People that fish from paddle craft already purchase fishing licenses.
8. The paddle sport community has very little impact compared to other water way users in regards to oil spills, shoreline erosion due to wakes, manatee strikes/fatalities, sea grass scarring, or fatalities due to collisions with docks or other vessels.
9. Some states that have implemented registration, have backed away and done away with it. States other than Florida have a different funding source infrastructure that allows them to funnel registration dollars back to the paddle community. Florida does not, as all state monies go into the General Revenue Fund. There are less than 5 states that currently require non-motorized registration.