How Boaters Can Participate in 35th Earth Day

April 14, 2005 The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s Division of Fish and Wildlife wants to let boaters know that there are many things they can do to reduce their impact on the environment. With only a small effort and a few housekeeping practices, boaters can reduce the amount of pollutants from their boating activities.

When boating:
• Minimize boat wakes, especially in confined spaces. It can reduce shoreline erosion and there will be less stirring up of bottom sediment to block needed light to submerged aquatic life;
• Keep all trash onboard and recycle items when possible. Floating garbage washed up on shorelines deters from the waterway’s natural beauty;
• Make sure all fishing line and plastic bags return to port. They can cause problems to boat engines and many marine species may confuse these items as food.

When conducting maintenance on your boat:
• Use water-based paints and varnishes whenever possible and take care to prevent paint, thinners and chemicals from being washed into the water. Many toxic substances can kill sensitive aquatic life, reduce animal productivity and/or concentrate in the food chain;
• Use less toxic and biodegradable products when cleaning decks and hulls to reduce pollutants;
• Avoid anti-fouling paints containing TBT as it is one of the most toxic chemicals introduced into the environment;
• Sweep up and properly dispose of any scraping from boat bottoms.

When dealing with boat engines:
• Keep your engine tuned to manufacturer’s specifications. This not only reduces emissions but also can save the boat owner money through less gasoline consumption;
• Minimize engine idle time and operate at speeds within the engine’s most efficient range. Boaters will see increased savings with the added benefit of less pollution;
• Recycle waste oil from engines and oil absorbing materials should be used in engine bilge spaces to catch leaks and spills. Dispose of empty oil containers properly.

Boaters should also remember that dumping untreated sewage is illegal. Boaters should use approved marine sanitation devices and use designated pump out stations whenever possible. The Division of Fish and Wildlife Office of Boating Education can be contacted at (302) 739-3486 for
information on Marine Sanitation Devices.

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