A Surge In Boating Provides Opportunity For Cleaner Waters

You may have noticed a few less people at your local mall or watering hole this past year. If they weren’t quarantining at home, chances are pretty good that they were out boating.

Given the many constraints of the COVID-19 pandemic, water activities have presented a socially acceptable way to get outside and enjoy a bit of nature. It wasn’t only experienced boaters that were getting out on the water either – new enthusiasts flooded the market with record demand.

A Surge In Boating Nationwide

According to the 2020 YachtWorld Market Index, sales of brokerage boats in the United States and around the globe increased significantly year-over-year in 2020. In fact, the report shows brokerage transactions rose 13% over 2019 in the U.S. Furthermore, data collected by the National Marine Manufacturers Association show that sales of new power boats were up 12 percent over 2019; that’s over 310,000 power boats sold, a number that the United States hasn’t seen since before the Great Recession. And projections suggest that sales will remain at historic levels in 2021.

More new boaters may bring new faces to your favorite fishing grounds or island retreats. But Boat Trader sees this influx of new mariners as an opportunity for cleaner waterways, now and in the future. That’s why the company has launched the #CleanWake Instagram challenge and awareness campaign.

New Boaters Means New Advocates For Clean Waterways

An increase in boaters means there are more potential advocates for clean water who can help bring awareness to the myriad of issues many of our waterways face, as well as helping take action to clean up trash and debris in their water stomping grounds.

“#CleanWake is a timely push for awareness about picking up trash and identifying new way to reduce marine debris,” said Jenny Burkett, Boat Trader’s Senior Manager of Public Relations.

“We’re partnering with marine experts and key boating influencers to start conversations and to start a ripple effect. Our goal is to reach people new to the water and challenge our followers to share about picking up trash in fun, creative ways. We’re making “talking trash” on social media a positive force.”

“If you have a passion for boating, a lot of your pleasure comes from the chance to be out in pristine environments, experiencing healthy ecosystems,” said Ryan McVinny, Head of Content at Boat Trader. “With more and more people enjoying the water, there are also more people to pick up trash. #CleanWake provides a fun way to challenge your friends and other boaters to do the same.”

The campaign encourages Instagram users to tag @BoatTraderUSA and #CleanWake in posts about boaters picking up trash—whether on land in or in the water. Boaters who become ambassadors for the campaign by posting, resharing and spreading awareness have the chance to be rewarded with gear from Boat Trader.

Trash Trappers by SeaSense™

Reusable mesh trash bags for boats called Trash Trappers by SeaSense™ will be given away on Instagram. Boat Trader will also publish inspiring stories from boaters across the country on its website, all to demonstrate how a sea of hands can create a profound ripple effect for our nation’s waters.

Response to the program in its first month has been astonishing. A number of conservation-minded groups and social media influencers around the country have signed on to participate, including:

  • Bonefish & Tarpon Trust
  • Environmental photographer Ian Wilson-Navarro (@ianwilsonn)
  • Kent Island (Maryland) Beach Cleanup (@kent_island_beach_cleanups)
  • Chase O’Malley, a teenager who’s working on Eagle Scout project to help clean and remove debris from the Chesapeake Bay (@chase_on_the_bay)
  • Photo journalist and avid surfer Zia Suarez (@ziasuarez)
  • Competitive sailor Aly di Nas (@harborhotness)
  • Great Lakes Great Responsibility (@greatlakesgreatresponsibility)
  • Clean This Beach Up, Miami Fl ( @cleanthisbeachup)

Beyond The Surface

Clean-up efforts are not limited to trash on the surface. One “trash talker,” Morgan Collins (@the_miami_cowboy), has focused his efforts on the ocean floor. “A few years back I got into paddle boarding and scuba diving,” Collins said. “I’d go to Picnic Island, one of the parks in Miami’s Biscayne Bay. The island is awesome, but sadly the trash cans are overflowing with trash from boaters. Seeing this got me more involved with #CleanWake. Each time we dive, we pick up as much trash as we can, everything from grocery bags, cans, bottles, masks, gloves and iPhone cables to anchors and even an outboard motor.”

Mainstream media outlets are already beginning to pick up on the campaign; a recent WSFL feature on #CleanWake ran on the CW affiliate’s TV station in south Florida.

Educating Boaters

#CleanWake is not only about making cleaner waterways. It’s also an opportunity to share useful advice about safe boating with newcomers who may not be aware of how their actions can impact the waters we all love to enjoy. To provide the best possible information, Boat Trader has teamed up with experts across the boating and marine conservation world to share timely boating practices tips through a series of guest editorials that will appear on www.boattrader.com.

The first editorial, penned by Dr. Ross Boucek (Florida Keys Initiative Manager for Bonefish and Tarpon Trust), highlights shallow water boating techniques. “Boat Trader approached BTT after seeing a video about best shallow water boating practices we’d produced for the website Silver Kings,” Dr. Boucek recalled. “We were happy to help. More boaters on the water means more pressure on the ecosystem and the fish that live there. The number of flats classified as “degraded” has grown astronomically in years. Boating education can help prevent damage to sensitive habitat. And healthy habitat equals healthy fisheries.”

In his piece, Dr. Boucek shared four tips for steering clear of shallow water areas:

  • If you see shallow water, don’t risk it. You should either idle over it or run around it. If you begin to come in contact with the bottom, back out and run around that area.
  • Use your eyes to navigate; rely on your GPS unit only as a navigational aid.
  • Treat yourself to a nice pair of Polarized sunglasses. These glasses allow you to see those shallow waters much easier.
  • If you’re boating in an area that you’re unfamiliar with, avoid driving in those areas at sunset and sunrise and at night when navigational hazards are harder to see.

“If I can visit one of my favorite bonefish flats and see one less boat plow into the bottom, I’ll feel that I’ve made a difference,” Dr. Boucek added. “If fewer people are buying single-use plastic bottles, that’s great too.”

Future topics to be covered will include the importance of limiting your use of single-use plastics (and keeping them in the boat if you do use them); safe boating practices around reefs and responsible diving; and hurricane preparedness and off-season maintenance for your boat and trailer.