Become a More Eco-Friendly Boater
Become a More Eco-Friendly Boater
Being an eco-friendly boater is a decision you make every day, but luckily it doesn’t have to be a hard one. Being environmentally-responsible ensures that future generations get to enjoy the same water we do.
1. Make a List, Check it Twice
If you don’t already have a pre-launch checklist, now is a great time to put one together. The Canadian Wildlife Federation has a great “Best Practices on Water” checklist (including a section for youth) for you to start with. You can fine-tune your list depending on your vessel, needs and sailing location. Some things may seem simple, like emptying garbage cans or cleaning out your recycling, but having everything written down makes it a lot harder to forget.
2. Know How to Prevent & Clean-Up Spills
Hopefully you never need this information, but it’s always better to be prepared. You should always have oil-absorbent pads and rags available for quick clean-up (you can find them at most hardware or marine stores). You should also keep the numbers for the American and Canadian Coast Guard in your phone, so you can report larger spills.
• BC & Yukon Coast Guard – 1-800-889-8852
• United States Coast Guard – 1-800-424-8802
These numbers should also be used if you see someone dumping waste or products into the water that could cause damage (like cleaning products, wastewater or fuel).
3. Choose Cleaner Products & Practices
Cleaning product runoff is one of the most common ways that everyday boaters can cause unintentional damage to marine ecosystems. If possible, use non-toxic products whenever you can. The Georgia Strait Alliance has a great list of tips for finding clean alternatives. Where you clean is just as important as how you clean. Look for marinas that have closed-loop boat wash-down systems, which prevent runoff from flowing back into the ocean. If you use any outboard motors, consider opting for a 4-stroke instead of a 2-stroke engine. 4-stroke engines produce less pollution, have a better fuel economy, and are quieter than the traditional 2-stroke engine.
4. Learn How to Protect Wildlife & Habitats
If an otter came into your house, dumped diesel on your dinner, threw trash on your bed and tore up your lawn, you’d be pretty angry. While it’s always exciting to come across whales, otters or bird habitats, knowing what to do when you come into contact with wildlife can go a long way to keeping these species safe. To keep marine habitats safe, make sure your nautical charts are up-to-date. Marine habitats can be particularly sensitive, and things like pollution, debris and anchoring can cause severe damage. Knowing exactly where these habitats are will help keep them protected.
5. Dispose of Everything Properly
Knowing where you can dispose of substances is essential. Does your local marina have a closed-loop water system for boat runoff while cleaning? What about your nearest pumpout station? Does your destination have recycling services, or should you clean out your boat before leaving? Unless where you’re going has a list of disposal services offered, don’t assume they have them. Look up nearby disposal stations before you head out, so you won’t get caught with a full trashcan and nowhere to dump it.
6. Keep Your Boat Running Smoothly
Regular maintenance and care to your engine and boating systems is one of the surest ways to prevent pollution and damage to marine life. A well-maintained boat has a lower chance of fuel or oil leakage, is easier to operate, and will save you money in the long run. A smooth-running boat looks better, feels better, and is better for the environment.