NSBC Announces a Commemorative Campaign for the Federal Boat Safety Act of 1971

The National Safe Boating Council (NSBC), whose mission is to create a safe boating experience for all recreational boaters, is launching a campaign in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard to recognize the remarkable impact of the Federal Boat Safety Act of 1971. The campaign will mark the Act’s 50th anniversary.

“Over the last 50 years, the Federal Boat Safety Act of 1971 has helped to continue the industry and cultural focus on boating safety,” said Captain Scott Johnson, Chief of the Coast Guard Office of Auxiliary and Boating Safety. “This commemorative celebration is a reminder to the entire boating safety community, including all levels of government, non-profit organizations, and the boating industry, about the importance of our continuing efforts to partner together to create a safe experience for all boaters.”

On August 10th, 1971, President Richard Nixon signed the Federal Boat Safety Act (FBSA). The act mandated a cooperative Federal-State effort to improve the safety of recreational boating in the United States. It also established the National Recreational Boating Safety Program and gave the U.S. Coast Guard the authority to establish mandatory boat manufacturing and safety standards.

The Federal Boat Safety Act led to a significant reduction in recreational boating accidents and fatalities after its passing. From 1972 to 1975, the recreational boating fatality rate was 12 percent lower than the rate in 1971. Today, recreational boating accidents are at historic lows.

“The innovation in the marine industry over the last 50 years is incredible – bringing a safe boating experience for a diverse and growing number of boaters today,” said Robert Newsome, senior vice president of operations for the National Marine Manufacturers Association. “It’s not enough to just talk about a safe boating experience, the fact is that many manufacturers have far exceeded industry standards; there’s a higher level of safety out there because of the Act.”

Matt Gruhn, president of the Marine Retailers Association, said, “The Act challenged the marine industry to focus on safety, and it has, with significant advancements in standards and technology – from joystick docking to bluetooth-enabled, engine cut-off devices – it continues to innovate to create a quality boating experience.”

The FBSA changed recreational boating and the way the industry approaches both safety and cooperation. This act has given organizations common guidelines for recreational boating safety and serves as the foundation for safe boating standards. Partnerships with volunteer organizations, state-led agencies, boaters and the maritime community have greatly contributed to the FBSA’s legacy. 

“The boating industry is continually innovating to create a safe boating experience for all boaters,” Peg Phillips, executive director of the National Safe Boating Council. “The FBSA of 1971 paved the way for leaps and bounds forward in the recreational boating industry.”

The campaign will kick off during the 2021 International Boating and Water Safety Summit to be held from May 17-19, 2021. Learn more at

Anyone interested in learning more about the FBSA’s continued impact and the campaign, please visit

About the National Safe Boating Council

Founded in 1958, the National Safe Boating Council (NSBC) serves as a national catalyst for developing a safe boating culture by providing educational resources, outreach programming, and training opportunities for industry partners and the boating community to influence safe, secure, and responsible boating. The Federal Boat Safety Act of 1971 anniversary campaign is produced under a grant from the Sports Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, administered by the U.S. Coast Guard. For more information about NSBC and our programs, visit