Challenging 2010 for Australian marina sector - but a brighter outlook

Colin Bransgrove, executive director of the Marina Industries Association of Australia (MIAA).
Despite a challenging 2010, initiatives developed by the Marina Industries Association of Australia (MIAA) over the past few years are beginning to bear fruit, making it well placed for next year and beyond.

At a pre-Christmas networking lunch for sponsors and media, MIAA executive director Colin Bransgrove outlined the organisation’s strategic priorities for the coming year.

'While 2010 has been a challenging year, with an uncertain economic outlook, we have seen a growth in membership, particularly into Asia,' he said.

MIAA is focussing on a number of key areas, including:

• Education and training

• Accreditation through its Gold Anchor and Clean Marinas programs

• Marinas carbon-reduction program

• Research program

• Best-practice guidelines for marinas.

Training and education: According to Bransgrove, this is the 'bread and butter' of the association.

'We have a three-year plan to develop training and education programs, and see more people coming into our industry.

'For example, we recently trialled a new program at Royal Motor Yacht Club Newport, on Pittwater, north of Sydney, aimed at introducing 15-18 year olds to the skills required for marina attendants,' he said.
Guests and media at the MIAA lunch in Sydney in early December

'Eight young people did this initial pilot course, and we are looking to roll this out nationally over the next 12 months. While a niche program, it’s an example of what we need to be doing in terms of training and education, and encouraging people to look at a career in our industry.

'And for those who take up a career in the marina industry, we want to be able to offer a clear pathway, with full professional development opportunities and recognised qualifications.'

Research program: Bransgrove outlined how MIAA is working with the Recreation Marine Research Centre at Michigan State University in the US on a research program that will enable the Australian marina industries to better articulate the value of marinas to the community, with benefits including:

• Economic

• Employment

• Environmental

• Social.

'We are looking to develop this further over the next 12 months, and from this, develop a set of best-practice guidelines for marinas,' he said.

Gold Anchor scheme: Introduced during 2010, MIAA’s Gold Anchor scheme is an internationally recognised, consumer-focused, independently audited rating system.

'We feel it’s very important to have an objective rating scheme -- similar to the 'star' program for the accommodation industry -- so that customers can have confidence in the quality of the marinas they are considering using,' said Bransgrove.

'Currently we have 12 marinas in Australia and overseas on our Gold Anchor scheme, and we are looking at doubling this over the next 12 months.'

Environment: With increasing regulatory pressure on marinas to ensure that pollution of waterways from marinas is kept to a minimum, the MIAA is taking on a range of initiatives to ensure the industry operates at the highest environmental standards, Bransgrove said.

'Our Clean Marinas program is about setting an example to the industry, the community and government.

'We recently launched our Level 4 Clean Marinas accreditation program in South Australia, where three marinas are now Level 4, ISO 14001-certified Clean Marinas.

MIAA treasurer Ian McAndrew: ’We’ve been very pleased with the success of our training program, which has so far achieved everything we wanted of it.’
'With initiatives like this, we can say to government, not only are we establishing best practice, but we are setting standards that are higher than regulators may be looking to impose,' he said.

'As part of this, we are also looking at more pro-active support from governments to support our activities.

'In regard to our marinas carbon reduction program, to date, there has not been great take-up of this, but we believe it is likely to grow strongly in the future as Australia and the world moves towards putting a price on carbon,' said Bransgrove.

In summing up, MIAA treasurer Ian McAndrew said from the association’s point of view it had been a 'reasonably successful 2010 -- and hopefully we will have an even more successful 2011'.

'In June next year we will have our conference and exhibition in Melbourne, which plays a very important role in driving the direction for our industry,' he said.

'We’ve also been very pleased with the success of our training program, which has so far achieved everything we wanted of it.'