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Having to pump the primer bulb tells you that either the fuel pump is not pulling enough, or there is a restriction in the fuel line between the tank and the engine. If you can get a different fuel source, like a portable 3 gallon tank and a different hose, you can tell which side it is on. If the engine runs the same with the different fuel source, then it is the fuel pump. If it runs better, it is either in the tank, or the hose between the engine and the tank.
Yes, this sounds like a fuel delivery issue. If it was electrical, pumping the bulb would not help at all. On these older boats, sometimes the pick-up tubes inside the tanks will loosen up where the tube meets the thru tank fitting. This point will allow the engine to suck air into the system. When you use the primer bulb, you are getting more vacuum on the tube and therefore getting fuel.
To test this, remove the hose from the tank connection, then unscrew the fitting from its base in the tank top. Once it is out, grab the tube, and then try to turn the fitting. If it turns, replace the pick up tube.
The carb bowls really dont hold much fuel at all. Yes if you run it on a separate tank and it still does it, replace the engine fuel pump. If you post the model number of the engine, I can get you the part number for it.