World Earth Day: 10 Responsible Boating Tips

Small changes in boaters habits and behaviors can make a significant impact on the environment. In celebration of Earth Day we have compiled a list of handy tips to help boaters reduce their environmental footprint while boating. This year the organizers are encouraging participants to take part in three days of climate action, between 20th and to 22nd April. Jump straight to tip eight to find out more about our Clean Wake campaign to find out what you can do today. Here are our top ten tips to help you boat more responsibly:

1 – Sustainable Fishing

Fishing sustainably is incredibly important to ensure that fish species don’t deplete, and compromise our fragile ecosystem. Fish play an important role in keeping algal growth in check. Follow these five rules to help reduce your environmental impact while fishing:

  1. Always check your local fishing rules and be mindful of the impacts of overfishing. Be mindful of MPA (Marine protected areas).
  2.  Learn about the local fish species size, and investigate whether you need to purchase a fishing license for a specific region.
  3.  Most fish have a possession limit. Deposing a fish is wasteful and a violation of the wildlife code. Only catch what you intend to eat.
  4.  Remember to not fully lift undersized or catch & release fish out of the water— when air temperatures are high it increases the likelihood that fish will die if they’ve exited the water. best practice is to unhook fish while they’re in the water.
  5. Check that unused bait and tackle should be disposed of properly. The best way to dispose of fishing line is in a monofilament line disposal bin— they can be found in many tackle shops and marinas! If there isn’t one local to you, watch Boat US’ film how to make your own monofilament line disposal bin for your community.
  6. Pick up any fishing debris that you notice as you fish. Fishing gear lost in the sea ‘ghost gear’ can continue killing marine life for decades or even centuries after it has entered the ocean.

Downriggers on a Contender 35 ST center console boat. Photo: Contender Boats via Intrinsic Yacht & Ship.

Contender 35 ST center console boat. Photo: Contender Boats via Intrinsic Yacht & Ship.

2 – Anchor Down Carefully

Deploy your anchor correctly to avoid dragging. Use the appropriate length of chain and warp to help reduce scouring on the seabed. If your anchor is dragging, then re-anchor and consider choosing a different anchorage. While you are disembarking the dock, check to see how your boat is positioned. If the boat is pulling back from the anchor you may need to slowly cruise the motor towards it as the crew board.

Choose an anchorage away from seagrass, reefs, and shellfish beds to mitigate any damage to sensitive areas.

3 – Take Care When Refueling!

Simple things such as taking care when refueling with oil and having a fuel and oil spill kit on board in case anything does get spilt. Oil absorbent booms float on the water surface and will absorb oil based liquids while repelling water. They help to prevent the spread of the spill and skimmers are ideal for controlling and cleaning up oil spills on bodies of water.

4 – Dispose Of Waste Correctly

Be careful when disposing of organic waste and ensure that this is carried out away from a reef over deep water. Not only does this spread waste out more effectively, but it is also less likely to interfere with natural reef animal behavior.

Despite human waste and toilet paper’s biodegradable properties, boat owners must be cognizant that the nitrogen-rich and eutrophic material has a large impact on reef organisms. This is because when a body of water becomes overly enriched with minerals and nutrients which induce excessive growth of algae, and may result in oxygen depletion.

It is important to consider the impact of discharging raw sewage from a sea toilet or holding tank into the sea. It would be prudent for yacht owners to retain waste in closed tanks in their vessels and to endeavor to release it only when over deeper water, away from the reef.

5 – Use a Non-Toxic, Non- Biocide Bottom Paint

Be aware that some antifouling paints contain copper elements which leach into the marine environment and can accumulate in filter feeders such as clams and mussels, and damage other marine life. Marinas and protected anchorages with little current or tidal movement are particularly vulnerable, as they allow the build-up of copper to reach toxic levels. Find out eco-friendly antifouling bottom paint solutions.

6 – Use Eco-friendly Cleaning Products

Chemicals in the water can cause algae growth which can block out the sunlight. The best non-toxic cleaning brands to offer a range of products include Seventh Generation, BioKleen, Ecover, Bon Ami and PureGreen24. Laundry detergents powered by plants are the safest way of washing sustainably.

7 – Waste Disposal

Be careful when disposing of organic waste and ensure that this is carried out away from a reef over deep water. Not only does this spread the waste out more effectively, but it is also less likely to interfere with natural reef animal behavior.
It is important to consider the impact of discharging raw sewage from a sea toilet or holding tank into the sea. It would be prudent for yacht owners to retain waste in closed tanks in their vessels and to endeavor to release it only when over deeper water, away from the reef.

8 – Clean Wake Clean-up

Participate in Boat Trader’s Clean Wake clean-up campaign. 80% of marine debris comes from land-based sources. We all want to enjoy a beach with porcelain white sand and clear-blue oceans free of residue and plastic. Boat Trader’s #CleanWake Instagram challenge involves boaters (or anybody who spends time on or near the water) to do their part by picking up trash left in and around waterways or on the beach. All you need is a bag and some gloves. Fill up your bag with as much rubbish as you can find near a waterway or beach. If you have a boat – even better! Snap a shot of your trash and share it on your social feed with the hashtag #cleanwake and and nominate five of your friends by tagging them in your post.

If you’re lacking inspiration, read about Meag from Lake Huron, Jordi from Maine, Michael from Oregon, and Hannah from Florida. Each character lives in a different state, and each Earth Day ambassador tells a unique story.

Meag-collecting-trash-at-Lake-Huron

Meag collecting trash at Lake Huron. Image credit: Meagan Schwartz

9 – Learn About Hybrid And Electric Boats

Diesel speed boats can eat up diesel at an astronomical rate. Newer hybrid and electric models are being released, and some lines such as X Shore’s Eelex 8000 have managed to incorporate high-performance into their designs too, so you can still get a buzz from thrashing through the waves.

10 – Use Reef-friendly Skincare Products

Chemicals in sunscreen can exacerbate the effects of coral bleaching. Only stock reef-safe sunscreen to ensure that you’re not contributing to coral reef damage.

Written by: Emma Coady

Emma Coady is a freelance writer and marine journalist who creates content for many household names in the boating industry, including YachtWorld, Boat Trader and boats.com. She also writes for several boat builders as well as charter and rental companies and regularly contributes to Greenline Hybrid yachts, TJB Super Yachts and Superyachts Monaco. Emma is the founder of Cloud Copy and enjoys traveling around Europe, spending as much of her spare time as possible in or on the water.

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