Do Your Part

Good Mate for Marinas

When you take the steps to green your marina, everyone wins: clean water is good for boating and for business.

Green Boating for Marinas - Docked boats. Photo by Marcus Arthur, from Flickr stream used under a creative commons license.

Incorporating green boating practices at your marina is good for your business and the environment.

While marinas are vital to the boating industry and the economy, the very nature of their business makes them a potential source for some of the most damaging types of water pollution. Fortunately, marina owners are in a unique position to stop trash and other pollution from entering the water.

Ocean Conservancy’s Good Mate program outlines best boating practices— practical steps you can use today. Click on the following links to learn more about how your marina can develop and incorporate environmentally friendly management strategies in six key areas:

The Good Mate Manual covers these topics in greater detail and also provides marinas with many informative and useful tips to be leaders in water protection. Electronic copies are available for download here.

When you take the steps to green your marina everyone wins: Clean water is good for the environment and your business.

 Oil and fuel

Diesel fuel and motor oil are not only toxic to people, plants and wildlife. They can also block life-giving sunlight in the water. Most oil pollution results from accidents and/or carelessness.

  • Routinely inspect storage tanks as required by law.
  • Set up an oil recycling program to deliver oil to a designated collection site like a service station. 
  • Make it easy for boat owners to recycle their steel oil filters, which can be made into new products. 
  • DO NOT use soaps to disperse spills – it is ILLEGAL.

 Sewage pollution

Think one boat doesn’t make a difference? A single overboard discharge of human waste in a shallow enclosed area like a bay can be detected across one square mile. Excess nutrients disrupt natural cycles and pose a human health hazard.

  • Boaters want pump-out service; provide portable or stationary units or pump-out
  • Give boaters access to dumping stations for disposal of portable toilet waste. 
  • Provide clean onshore restrooms and encourage their use.

 Vessel and maintenance repair

Sanding, cleaning, painting and degreasing boats can pose major threats to our waters. Particles of dust and paint in the water can block life-giving sunlight, and toxic substances from cleaners and antifouling compounds can sicken or kill marine life.

  • Provide dedicated work areas for basic maintenance. Make sure the floor is impervious and sweep or vacuum often. Outside, use tarps to catch debris from sanding and scraping.
  • Install water catch basins or other collection systems in boat-washing areas. 
  • Offer environmentally friendly cleaners, and post tips and rules to reduce damage to local waterways.

 Marine debris

Trash in the water isn’t just an eyesore; it damages boats and threatens the well-being of marine wildlife. It also undermines tourism and economic activities that create jobs. But there’s good news. Litter in the water is entirely preventable.

  • Set up recycling bins for staff and customers, and talk about the dangers of marine debris.
  • Provide special collection bins for hazardous items like batteries and flares to keep them from being discarded in the water. 
  • Provide plenty of containers for safely collecting cigarette butts – the number one marine litter item found worldwide during the International Coastal Cleanup.

 Stormwater runoff

At marinas, storm drains can carry pollutants – including toxic metals from boat hull scraping and sanding, oil and grease, detergents, litter, and hazardous bilge waste – directly into the water.

  • Install buffer strips of vegetation or sand to filter stormwater runoff.
  • Maintain storm drains and stencil messages near them to remind boaters about the direct connection to local waters. 
  • Maintain proper functioning of all marina equipment and inspect sewage disposal facilities regularly.

 Vessel operation

Marinas and individual boaters must play a role in reducing vessel operation damage. Vessel operation damage occurs whenever improper handling, irresponsible use or neglect of a vessel results in damages to the environment. The effects can be costly.

  • Maintain up-to-date charts.
  • Alert boaters to sensitive habitats in your area, protected species they may encounter and the potential dangers of invasive species. 
  • Conduct visual inspections of all vessels in your marina to identify those posing pollution threats.

Join the Fight for a Healthy Ocean

Help keep the ocean healthy for sea turtles, polar bears, whales and people like you.

Features

Good Mate

Ocean and waterway conservation for boaters and marina operators.

Good Mate For Boaters

Tips to help boaters keep our ocean clean and healthy while on the water and at the dock.

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