I ran at speed through the NJ intracoastal using the spotlight to pick out channel markers, no wake buoys, crab pots, marina entrances or see a dock clearly from a distance...... lots of reasons during the assistance towing job.
I was always careful to point it up and away at the first sign of approaching boats.
As far as night vision, in crowded inland waters with all kinds of bright lights along the way, true night vision is never really achieved anyway.
It was the only way I felt comfortable running at speed compared to all other methods.
At trawler speeds, sure most smaller spotlights are fine for picking out objects.
Flir might work great, not sure about night vision with the random lighting encountered in my scenario...but plenty of areas of near total darkness would probably benefit from them.