Coast Guard Auxiliary Discusses
How to Be A "Good Mate:"
Fast Facts about Vessel Maintenance Pollution
(Part One of a Series)
By: Ed Sweeney, National Press Corps (Pacific Region)
Spring is here, and a sailor's thoughts
turn to boating. It is that time of the year when tens of thousands of
power boaters and sail enthusiasts alike are preparing their vessel for
the upcoming boating season.
Whether you store your vessel on the
water or in your backyard, this series of articles will help you be a
"Good Mate" and keep the marine environment "clean and green."
WHAT ABOUT VESSEL MAINTENANCE
In the next few weeks, vessel
maintenance and repair activities will be taking place virtually all
around us. These activities include surface cleaning, sanding, washing,
waxing, scrapping, painting, as well as replacing hardware on the boat,
lines, cleats, etc. Moreover, many people change their oil in
anticipation of the season, and dispose of batteries, antifreeze, and
other toxic materials.
Cleaning products used to get boats
ready for the season include soaps, solvents, cleaners, waxes, teak
cleaners, and fiberglass, wood, and chrome polishers. A number of these
products contain ammonia, phosphates, chlorine, hydrocarbon products,
and otherwise harmful ingredients that are hazardous to humans as well
as the aquatic environment.
CLEAN WATER - IT'S THE LAW
The Clean Water Act prohibits the
discharge of harmful quantities of pollutants into the waters of the
United States. Many states, including California, have additional
regulations, often more stringent than the Clean Water Act. As in many
cases, ignorance of the law is not an excuse! There are often severe
criminal and civil penalties that may be imposed for violation of these
federal and state laws.
WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL ANYWAY?
Many of the items used to clean your
boat from all the grime can be quite toxic and harmful to numerous types
of marine life. Some examples include hull sandings; can increase the
particulate matter in the water column, reducing the light penetrating
the water, and this reducing the water quality. Moreover, cleaners and
detergents can add nutrients to the local waters, degrading water
quality, promoting algae growth, and causing an algal bloom. This
reduces the oxygen in the water, which can result in a massive fish
kill, which may impact the entire food chain adversely.
WHAT'S A SKIPPER TO DO?
Here are some of the things that boaters
can do to be kind to the environment:
using products that contain chlorine, phosphates, ammonia,
hydrocarbons, or any other product labeled hazardous to humans. If a
product is hazardous to you, chances are its hazardous to the aquatic
environment as well.
Rinse your boat with clean, fresh water
after each use. This stops organism growth, extends the life of the
protective paint, and reduces the need for heavy-duty cleaners. Use
more "elbow grease," not more product.
Use only the amount of cleaning product
you need, and be sure to clean up any spills with a rag and dispose of
the rag properly.
Conduct all sanding and scraping
operation while the boat is in the boat yard. If you must sand while
the boat is in the water, use a vacuum sander to ensure debris doesn't
get into the water, and use drop cloths to prevent paint chips from
contaminating the aquatic environment.
Try using hull paints containing Teflon,
silicon, or cayenne pepper rather than toxic metals, like copper and
tin. If you must paint the boat's topside while the boat is in the
water, make sure you have a tarp to catch any spills.
Be sure to dispose of oil and batteries
properly. If your marina doesn't have a hazardous material
receptacle, encourage them to get one. Dispose flares in a flameproof
container, or transported to the local fire department for proper
Encourage your marina or marine dealer to
stock environmentally friendly products.
Boaters are only part of the Marine
Partnership necessary to ensure a healthy aquatic environment. Marians
also play an important role in keeping the waters "clean and green."
Here are some of the things marina operators can do to be a Good Mate:
Make sure storm drains located near work
areas in the bat year are coverage to prevent toxic materials from
entering the waterway.
Provide clearly marked bins for hazardous
waste and otherwise dangerous products.
Stock environmentally friendly products
for sale to your customers.
Post environmentally friendly cleaning
tips at the marina, or include a flyer with cleaning product
PRACTICE THE THREE "R's"
We're not talking reading, 'riting, and
rithmetic, nor are we talking about another three R's that many mariners
are familiar with; red – right - returning. Here we're talking about
REDUCE, REUSE, and RECYCLE. The gist of this article in how to
prevent/mitigate vessel maintenance pollution is on the first R – reduce
the use of toxic products whenever possible, and use fewer products, and
more elbow grease!
As you can see, the introduction of man
and his sea faring vessels into our lakes, rivers, bays and oceans can
profoundly impact the marine environment. But with a little common sense
and the knowledge gained from above, we can all have clean waterways to
boat, fish, swim, and maintain a healthy aquatic environment.
The American Boating Association
PO Box 690
New Market, MD 21774