Florida House CS/HB 5005, now under consideration in the Florida Legislature, would deregulate Florida's strong and vibrant yacht brokerage industry by ending the Florida Yacht & Ship Brokers Act. The Florida Yacht Brokers Association, Marine Industries Association of South Florida and Marine Industries Association of Florida oppose this measure, as it would undermine the professionalism of Florida's yacht brokers. With its international reach, Florida's yacht brokerage industry is the envy of the world.

Y&SBA protects buyers, sellers and brokers by ensuring that all yacht brokers operating in the state are licensed and bonded while conducting business according to the highest ethical and professional standards. Thanks to the Y&SBA, boat and yacht buyers from across the country and around the world who regularly come to Florida to purchase a vessel can rest assured that any funds they place on deposit will be held by a licensed broker in a regulated and bonded escrow account. Watch this now: Three more sets of remains discovered near NY beach.

At the same time, the Y&SBA has exceeded its state charter by consistently running annual surpluses, thereby costing the state and taxpayers nothing to operate. In fact, it generated $326,945 in excess revenue in the 2009-10 period. Meanwhile, Florida's vibrant and growing yacht brokerage industry funnels millions of tax dollars each year to state coffers. Consider that: In 2010, despite incredible economic challenges, Florida's yacht brokerages represented a whopping 20 percent of all yachts sold worldwide, resulting in more than 202,000 jobs and an estimated $16.8 billion in total marine product sales throughout Florida's marine industry.

Florida's more than 2,500 brokers accounted for 15 percent of all yacht brokers in the world. CS/HB 5005 doesn't deregulate Realtors, who also are licensed, and it shouldn't include yacht brokers. Like Realtors, yacht brokers handle complex transactions often involving international clients in the hundreds of thousands, even millions, of dollars. During the course of business, yacht brokers regularly collect, hold and distribute large sums of money from clients, which are held in escrow accounts and are controlled by individual yacht brokerage offices.

Deregulating Florida's yacht brokers, as outlined in CS/HB 5005, would leave consumers wary about doing business in a state where their boat purchases, finances and general well-being are at risk. In addition, the reputation of Florida yacht brokers could suffer and significant revenues generated for Florida from boat sales, as well as jobs, would be lost.

On the other hand, keeping the Y&SBA in place will help maintain the integrity of the yacht brokerage industry and help Florida's economy, in which the marine industry is a crucial player, grow and thrive.

Cromwell Littlejohn is president of the Florida Yacht Brokers Association.