For the most part, you probably assume there’s nothing wrong with a day spent in your boat on the water. After all, you’re outside enjoying nature – no harm, no foul. But what if that’s not the case? In many instances, boating actually has a negative impact on marine ecosystems and it’s up to us to be more responsible stewards of these precious resources.
4 Ways You Can be a Greener Boater
For many people, there are few better ways to spend a warm spring or summer day than in a boat on the open water. Whether it’s on a private lake, a scenic bay, or out in the deep blue ocean, there’s something exciting and invigorating about immersing yourself in the tranquility of nature. The problem is that boating doesn’t always have the same effect on the marine ecosystem.
When you look at it in context, there’s not much about traditional boating that’s “green” or “eco-friendly.” Outside of kayaking and canoeing, most boating activities require an engine and have some sort of impact on the water. The question is, how much of an impact are you having?
Here are a few practical ways you can become a “greener” boater:
1. Better Fuel and Oil Practices
“Fish, shellfish, sea birds and other forms of aquatic life require a balance of nutrients, oxygen and clean water to survive. Even small quantities of toxic products in the water can disrupt this balance, with lasting harmful effects,” EarthEasy.com explains. “The volume of hydrocarbon and oil pollution entering North America’s waters every year from recreational boating is estimated to be more than 15 times the amount of the Exxon Valdez spill (up to one billion litres per year).”
That’s saying something! If you want to be a greener boater, you have to do your part to limit oil spills and properly dispose of used oil and filters. One of the best things you can do is keep your engine well tuned and secure some sort of oil absorbent pad in your bilge where drips and leaks are more likely to occur.
2. Safer Boat Maintenance and Cleaning
Part of being a green boater is taking care of your boat so that it has the least amount of impact possible on the water. For example, anti-fouling paint plays an important role in protecting a boat’s hull, but few boaters take the time to make strategic choices about the products they use. You need to choose a product that not only meets your needs, but is also free from toxic chemicals and ingredients.
3. Proper Disposal of Waste
In addition to oil and gas, hazardous waste of all types and kinds must be disposed of in the proper manner. This is often easier said than done, which is why many boaters are careless in this area.
Hazardous waste that may be present on your boat could include antifreeze, batteries, paints, cleaning products, filters, and sewage. Your marina or dock should have information on where you can find places to locally dispose of these materials.
4. Respect for Marine Life
Finally, you need to have respect for marine life. If you’re fishing, make sure you follow all laws and only keep fish that meet certain requirements (and that you’re going to use). It’s also important that you learn proper anchoring techniques to prevent harming elements like coral reefs, fish beds, and sea grass.
There’s nothing wrong with having fun and enjoying your time out on the water. However, in order to be a green boater, you have to accept responsibility. This means making strategic choices about the products and processes you use – even when it isn’t super convenient.
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