Thomas Murray, Associate Director for Advisory Services at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, was presented with a Recreational Boating Access Award from the Boat Owners Association of the United States (BoatUS) last week during the 2013 National Working Waterfronts and Waterways Symposium in Tacoma, Washington.
Murray—who also serves as Extension Program Leader for Virginia Sea Grant at VIMS—was recognized for his commitment to keeping the nation’s waterfronts at work for recreational boating, and championing water-dependent businesses and industry that drives local economic development.
As an economist and business specialist, Murray is credited with bringing together previously competing interests to preserve coastal access in Virginia and nationwide. He helped establish marine trades organizations and curricula at local community colleges, and revived the Virginia Marine Trades Association. In 2010, VIMS recognized him with the Outstanding Employee in Advisory Service award for his outstanding work with Virginia's coastal businesses and communities.
Murray has also helped secure federal grant funds that have resulted in a number of new facilities benefiting cruising boaters on Chesapeake Bay, and has authored many economic impact studies and reports on subjects such as the economic impact of boater spending in Virginia. He is a member of the Federal Boating Infrastructure Grant (BIG) review committee, which funds transient boating facilities, and is an advocate of clean marina programs.
VIMS Dean and Director John Wells says, “The VIMS community continues to benefit from Tom’s expertise as a source for reliable economic and business information, but it’s the boating industry and recreational boaters who benefit the most from Tom’s extensive knowledge of the economic impact boating has on our waterfronts.”
Murray says he is honored to receive the award and that “the award is particularly gratifying as it shows the importance of our efforts to foster an industry that enables citizens to experience and value our coastal and marine resources."
In 2007, Murray conceived and co-chaired the first national working waterways conference examining water access. Ryck Lydecker, BoatUS Assistant Vice President of Government Affairs, says that conference came "at a time when boaters were losing slip space to residential development, and public marinas and other boating services were being forced off the waterfront.” Murray's work on that first successful watershed boating access event inspired a second such national symposium in 2010 as well as last week’s 2013 Symposium.
"Any time someone mentions economics and boating in the same breath, Tom's name is always the first one that comes to my mind,” says Lydecker, who presented Murray with the award. “The experience, wisdom, and collaborative spirit that he brings as an advocate of the boating industry goes far beyond just economics. He truly has dedicated his career and life to boating and so many of us have benefitted from his work," added Lydecker.
At VIMS, Murray continues to disseminate practical information to policy makers and boaters alike, while at home he proudly helms his fishing boat—a Boston Whaler center-console outboard—on the waters of Virginia's Middle Peninsula.
The Boat Owners Association of The United States
BoatUS is the nation's leading advocate for recreational boaters, providing its more than half-million members with government representation and services. Services include 24-hour on-the-water boat towing as well as roadside assistance for boat trailers and tow vehicles, boat insurance programs, money-saving benefits that include marina shopping discounts, and information that improves the boating, fishing, and sailing lifestyle. Its member-funded BoatUS Foundation is a national leader promoting safe, clean, and responsible boating.