Eco-friendly boating tips
This Earth Day, do your part to protect our waterways by following these eco-friendly boating tips.
- Retrieve any trash that gets into the water—even if it isn’t yours. Keep a net handy for this purpose.
- Limit the amount of packaging and plastic you take aboard.
- Recycle all cans, glass, plastics, and monofilament fishing line.
- Have easy-to-identify trash and recycling containers aboard.
- Do not throw or let trash blow overboard. All plastics are harmful to fish and birds.
- Do not throw fish waste into shallow water or water near a marina. Discard it in deep water or in trash bins ashore.
- Use restrooms onshore before departure.
- Use approved marine sanitation devices while underway.
- Pump out and rinse holding tanks regularly.
- Follow a regular maintenance schedule for your marine sanitation device based on the manufacturer’s recommendations.
- Use enzyme-based products to control odor and break down solids in holding tanks.
- Never discharge raw sewage in U.S. territorial waters.
Fueling and spills
- Know how much fuel your tanks hold and fill them with caution. Fuel expands as it warms, so don’t top off your tanks.
- Use absorbent pads to catch drips between the dock and boat and around the vent overflow; dispose of them properly.
- Fill trailer boat tanks and other portable gas tanks on shore before launching.
- Keep your boat’s engine(s) tuned and watch for leaking seals, gaskets, hoses, and fuel lines.
- Place oil absorbent pads under engines and replace them at least once a year.
- Keep your bilge clean and dry.
- Plan for spills; keep absorbent material at hand.
- Never discharge oily bilge water overboard. Pump it into a dockside holding tank or have it professionally removed. Collect oil by swirling an oil-absorbent pad in bilge water.
- Wash your boat regularly with fresh water to avoid using harsh detergents.
- Choose phosphate-free, biodegradable and nontoxic cleaners.
- Waxing and buffing allow you to use less cleaning solution—and your boat looks better.
- Perform major cleaning and maintenance tasks when your boat is out of the water.
- Conserve water by using a spray nozzle on the hose. Use a drop cloth when sanding and scraping. Collect and properly dispose of all paint chips, dust, and other residues.
- Share leftover paint and varnish.
- Dispose of solvents and waste gas at local hazardous waste collection sites.
- Use environmentally safe anti-fouling paints and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Recycle used zincs.
- Keep engines tuned; this reduces carbon monoxide emissions when moored, reduces hydrocarbon and soot emissions, and saves fuel.
- Dispose of drained oil and any spent or spilled coolant at appropriate recycling centers when performing maintenance yourself.
- When fishing, keep only those fish you intend to eat. Practice responsible catch and release techniques to ensure the survival of those you throw back.
- Proceed slowly in shallow areas so you don’t disturb wildlife.
- Avoid stirring up the bottom. Suspended sediment limits light penetration and depletes oxygen.
- Sea otters, sea lions, manatees, whales and other sea mammals can be injured by impact with boats at higher speeds; avoid areas of high animal population or proceed slowly.
- Report any injured animal to local wildlife authorities. Many times, the animal’s life can be saved.
- Protect waters from invasive species. Remove any visible mud, plants, fish, or animals before transporting your boat. Clean and dry anything that touches the water (boats, trailers, equipment, clothing, dogs, etc.).
- Never release plants, fish or animals into a body of water unless they came from that body of water. Bilge water can also transport invasive species.
- High wakes cause shoreline erosion and destruction of wildlife habitats.
- Disturbing sea grass beds increases erosion and disturbs the nursery habitats of many fish species. Avoid these areas while underway and when docking or beaching vessels.
- Noise and boat movement easily disturb migrating and nesting birds, causing harmful expenditure of energy, abandonment of nests to predators, and harmful heat or cold exposure.
- Harassment of wildlife is illegal and causes undue stress.
- Know and obey the laws governing our boating waters.
- Set an example for your crew, guests and other boaters.
- Support environmentally responsible marinas and other boating facilities.
- Encourage marinas and other boating facilities that don’t provide trash cans, recycling containers and pump-out facilities to do so.
–America’s Boating Club, Environmental Committee
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