Enjoying the natural setting of our oceans and witnessing the breathtaking beauty of marine life are considered the main reasons to go boating. However, the fact of the matter is the growth of recreational boating and other related activities, such as fishing and swimming, has led to massive pollution of waterways.
This calls for the need for the boating community as well as marine industry to work diligently in order to address the numerous environmental issues related to boating. After all, it is up to each and every one of us to protect and maintain our waters. The million-dollar question here, though, is: how can you do this? Over the past few years, the movement towards green marinas has become more common. That is simply as, whether you like it or not, collective awareness is the only key to ensure boating remains fun, clean and sustainable now, and well into the future. But, what exactly is a green marina?
What is a Green Marina?
Green marinas, also commonly known as clean marinas, help in the reduction and prevention of water pollution through the practice of environment conscious operating and maintenance methods. Green marinas are also particularly helpful in educating recreational boaters with numerous ways (some of which you will learn in this article!) to decrease their individual impact on coastal waterways.
Benefits of Green Marinas & Boating
Many of the activities done at marinas contribute towards nonpoint source pollution, which is the pollution which occurs when snowmelt or rainfall picks up pollutants while washing over land and deposits them in the receiving waters. As marinas are situated right at the edge of the water, the chances of it receiving these pollutants are significantly higher. Not to mention, the pollution from boats and the marina itself, slowly, but eventually add up into that watershed, resulting in more environmental issues.
However, when you operate boats and marinas in an environmentally-friendly way, it can lead to several different benefits. Sure, the efforts of a single marina or boat may seem insignificant, but when multiplied, these effects can become more significant and apparent:
Healthier fish and safe seafood.
Improved water quality.
Higher marina profits.
Lower marina maintenance costs.
Cleaner marinas for recreational activities, such as swimming, boating and fishing.
Investment towards a sustainable environmental future.
Increased waterside economic development and property values.
Ways to Keep Your Marinas Green
Now that you are aware about the environmental problems marinas face today, and how green marinas can effectively solve them, let’s take a look at the various ways you being a boater can follow to keep your marinas green:
Education Is Vital
First and foremost, boater education is considered one of the best ways to reduce and prevent pollution in and around marinas. As pollution is the cause of individual actions, such as dumping trash or boat sewage, it is up to you to gain as much education as possible about pollution in marina waters, so you can become more aware of their causes and harmful effects!
The Best Practices for Boater Education:
Read books which educate about boating in an environmentally-friendly way.
Read articles related to green marinas (just like you are doing now!).
Join programmes or classes that focus on eco-friendly boating.
Keeping Your Boats in Shape
Undoubtedly, routine maintenance of your boat is extremely important to keep it in good working condition. However, some of the products used for this purpose can prove harmful for marina waters. Many of the polishes, paints and cleaning equipment you use for the maintenance of your boat contain chlorine, ammonia, hydrocarbon or phosphate, all of which are substances which are harmful to aquatic life.
The Best Practices for Maintenance and Cleaning:
Only use biodegradable cleaning products and detergents as they have a minimal impact on the marine environment.
Remove boat from the water when cleaning so debris can be captured and disposed in a proper manner. This will prevent it from running off into the marina basin.
Thoroughly wash boats before transporting them back into the waters to prevent the spread of nonnative organisms and plants.
Avoid hull scraping or any other abrasive process when the boat is in-water, as it could remove the paint from the hull.
The spilling of diesel fuel and gasoline is quite common during boat fueling, but it can be easily avoided. In most cases, these spills are quite small, so most boaters tend to believe it’s nothing significant. However, these small spills will accumulate over time and create even more pollution problems.
Fuel your boat only in designated fueling stations so any spills can be cleaned up easily.
Use fuel spill prevention products, such as fuel vents to prevent the overflow and ultimately fuel spillage.
Purchase and install automatic shutoffs on the hose nozzles to prevent fuel loss and spills.
Use watercraft floats present at the fuel docks to refuel easily without spilling.
Protecting Aquatic Habitat
The aquatic habitat consists of a diversity of plants, animals, fish spawning areas and submerged grasses. However, marina-related activities, such as speeding boats, shoreline erosion, and dredging, can affect them negatively. These activities do not only cause physical damage, but may also lead to the introduction of nonnative organisms and plants that might be harmful for the aquatic habitat.
The Best Practices to Protect Aquatic Habitat:
Avoid dragging or planting anchors in grass beds.
Avoid dumping fish waste, trash and unused bait into the marina water.
Lower boat speeds near shore areas and respect no-wake zones.
Wash your boat thoroughly on the shoreline using fresh and clean water, before transporting them back into the waters.
While marinas are gateways to open water, they also serve the purpose of being a home base for boaters to dock their boats, purchase supplies, unload their boats, dispose of trash, clean fish, service and refuel their engines, as well as pump out their portable toilets and holding tanks. All these dockside activities can add up and contribute towards water pollution.
The Best Practices for Good Dockside Housekeeping:
Throwing trash in the water does not only look bad, but it can also lead to several problems for boaters and wildlife. Thousands of marine animals die each year due to plastic trash being dumped into marine water, whereas trash, fishing lines, and other debris can clog propellers and other moving parts of the boat.
The Best Practices for Trash Disposal:
Ensure trash is disposed of properly by throwing it in the designated containers.
Clean up after your pet.
Bring all your garbage, cans, bottles and plastic items back to the shore for proper recycling or disposal.
Boat Sewage & Disposal
You simply cannot expect to keep the waters clean if you are directly discharging the sewage from boats into the waters. In some states, discharging untreated sewage is even considered illegal, which just goes to show how important is proper sewage disposal to protecting marine environment and life.
The Best Practices for Boat Sewage and Disposal:
Use the restroom facilities available at the marina before you head out for a day on the waters.
Use the marina’s dump station and sewage pump out station to empty portable toilets or holding tanks.
The valves of holding tanks should be kept closed when within the 3-mile limit from the shoreline.
The wake from your boat’s motors can cause damage to the aquatic habitat along the shorelines and shallow waters. Moreover, jet drives or propellers dig furrows across the sediment and vegetation, which can take years to recover! The spread of nonnative organisms and plants is also influenced by individual boating habits.
The Best Boating Practices:
Anchor your boat in areas away from aquatic habitat.
Stay on the lookout for marine animals in shallow waters.
Thoroughly wash your boat with fresh and clean water on land, before you take it back into the waters.
Pay close attention to buoy warnings and channel markers to avoid stirring bottom sediments and running aground.
Lower your speeds in no-wake zones to prevent shoreline erosion and inducing wave energy.
As you can see, keeping our marinas green can prove extremely helpful in reducing the effects of pollution on our waterways. And with pollution levels on the rise, it’s about time everybody took responsibility for their actions. Remember, even the small efforts count!
So, keep the abovementioned tips in mind, and play an important role in keeping our waterways clean and green, so the numerous environmental issues resulting from these recreational activities can be controlled, before they escalate to uncontrollable levels. To get the right materials and materials you need to keep your boat and the marina clean, you can head to Mobox Marine right away.