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Environmentally Friendly Boating

Green Boating While enjoyable, the nature of recreational boating makes it a potential source for the most damaging types of water pollution: oil and fuel, sewage, chemicals, solid waste and debris.

Boaters can inadvertently introduce all of these harmful pollutants into the environment through their everyday activities. Much can be done by individual citizens to help protect coastal water quality and as a boat owner, you can play a major role in improving water quality.

The first step is to understand the potential impact of boating activities. One of the largest impacts that people, including boaters have on the marine environment is the introduction and prevalence of marine debris.
Marine debris is anything that inadvertently ends up in the marine environment. It get there directly or indirectly, intentionally or unintentionally, disposed of or abandoned. No matter how it got there, it will have an impact on the environment.
Living around the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary has it's benefits, but also its responsibilities. Great conservation efforts happen locally around the Monterey Bay through a variety of organizations. Read on for more resources about how you can enjoy the environment as well as protect it.

Happy Boating!
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Marine debris is not only a blight in the marine environment, it is harmful to the entire ecosystem.

Most Common Types of Marine Debris:

Plastics - As society has developed new uses for plastics, the variety and quantity of plastic items found in the marine environment has increased dramatically. These products range from common domestic material (bags, cups, bottles, balloons) to industrial products (strapping bands, plastic sheeting, hard hats, resin pellets) to lost or discarded fishing gear (nets, buoys, traps, lines).

Glass, Metal, Styrofoam, and Rubber - These materials are similar to plastic in that they are used for a wide range of products. While they can be worn away - broken down into smaller and smaller fragments, they generally do not biodegrade entirely. As these materials are used commonly in our society, their occurrence as marine debris is overwhelming.

Derelict Fishing Gear - Derelict fishing gear (DFG) refers to nets, lines, crab/shrimp pots, and other recreational or commercial fishing equipment that has been lost, abandoned, or discarded in the marine environment. Modern gear is generally made of synthetic materials and metal, and lost gear can persist for a very long time.
Spring Forward …Recycle - Recycling Efforts By Boat Owners
Boat/US Magazine, March, 2000 by Elaine Dickinson

Marinas are more conscious than ever of their impact on the environment and many have taken a multitude of steps to keep their waterways clean. But it's also up to boat owners to do the same, and one of the easiest is recycling.

With boaters' special appreciation for clean waterways, recycling is a natural. Here are a few ways to pitch in:

  • Recycling Trash -- Anything you can recycle and keep out of your marina's commercial dumpster will save money in the long run on waste-hauling charges. If your marina has a recycling program, use it. Be sure to separate items as directed because "contaminated" waste may end up costing the marina more money to haul. On board, reduce your own amount of throwaway items, for example, use reusable plastic boxes for food instead of wrappings or baggies. Use rags instead of paper towels. Crush aluminum cans to save space on board and recycle them at the marina or at home.
  • Used Motor Oil -- Many marinas are now collecting used motor oil for recycling, as are many auto garages. If you can't dispose of it at your marina, go to one of the large chain retail oil change services. You must make sure the oil has not been mixed with anything else. Also keep in mind that in some states, such as Florida, used oil filters are not allowed in regular trash. They must be drained and recycled at oil collection sites or garages. Never dump oil in the water, on land or in the trash; fines can be in the thousands! There are also "quickie" oil change services that will come to your boat and perform the job for you and take the used oil away.
  • Antifreeze -- As you get ready to commission your boat for spring, antifreeze can also be recycled and reconditioned. Check with your marina or auto shop to see if they accept used antifreeze; both types can be recycled. Whenever possible, use the nontoxic type, propylene glycol. The other kind, ethylene glycol, is not only poisonous to pets or children that might drink it but toxic to juvenile fish and other small marine life that are found in sheltered waters in the springtime.
  • Batteries -- Lead-acid batteries must periodically be replaced on your boat and all Boat U.S. Marine Centers will take back the battery for recycling if you bring it in. If you don't and purchase a new battery, you pay a $5-$20 fee, depending upon the size of the battery. Marine centers will also accept spent batteries for recycling with no purchase necessary. Rechargeable nickel-cadmium (ni-cad) batteries such as those used in cordless phones and power tools can be recycled through various locations. Click here for
  • Shrink Wrap -- It's been a great invention, offering total protection to boats, but it's a bear to dispose of and generates voluminous waste. One marina owner who wrapped 50 boats for winter estimated he had 40,000 square feet of the stuff to discard! Fortunately, some areas have begun shrink wrap recycling programs for marinas as companies are cropping up that will collect used shrink wrap and recycle it. Dr. Shrink is one we know of at 800-968-5147 or www.dr-shrink.com. Ask your marina or local marine trades organization to begin a recycling program for shrink wrap.
  • Expired Flares -- These have been a problem for years. You can keep some on board as back-ups for your fresh flares, but eventually you end up with too many. Do not put them in the trash, as they are considered household hazardous waste. Save them for hazardous waste collection days; some local boating groups sponsor safety events where flares can be set off for practice; some fire departments will take them to use for demonstrations and practice. There have been local pilot programs by manufacturers to take them back; if these programs expand, we'll let you know.
COPYRIGHT 2000 Boat Owners Association
COPYRIGHT 2000 Gale Group