Paul Cusson has been in the boating industry for nearly three decades.
“Fishing, being on the water,” he said, “that’s what drew me into this business.”
Six years ago, Paul and his wife Tasha purchased the Westbrook Marine Center next to their dealership, Atlantic Outboard.
“It allows us to give the customer a year round service,” Cusson said, “We can berth them in the summer, take care of the boat for them in the winter.”
Since the economic recession in 2008, Connecticut Marine Trades Association Executive Director Kathleen Burns said boat registrations in the state have been on a steady decline.
“It was followed by Irene and Sandy which certainly had its impact in the sense a number of boats were destroyed or damaged,” Burns said. “T
hey were never replaced.”
The number of registered boats in the state has dropped from more than 112,000 in 2007 to under 99 thousand in 2015, according to DEEP data.
“Due in part to people retiring and getting out of the industry,” Tasha Cusson said.
While registrations are down, Governor Malloy’s press secretary points out boat sales were at their highest level last year since before the recession, according to Department of Revenue Service data.
From gas to insurance to slips, it is expensive to own and maintain a boat.
“Now we see it’s hard for young families and young people to get into boating,” Paul Cusson said.
Connecticut should consider polices that are more friendly to the marine industry like in neighboring states, Burns suggested to NBC Connecticut.
“Right now we are being squeezed a little bit from other states that have looked to their assist marine industries by providing some tax incentives,” she said.
In 2013, the state eliminated a luxury tax on boats.