Boating is a fun, recreational activity enjoyed by thousands of people every year. What many miss, however, is the fact that over the past couple of years, it has also turned out to be one of the most environmentally hazardous activities. In fact, it is estimated that the volume of oil pollution and hydrocarbon entering the water every year is at least fifteen times more than the amount that was spilled in the Exxon Valdez incident alone.
Due to a large number of boaters operating either carelessly or without adequate knowledge of following safe boating rules, the waters they operate in gets severely affected with pollutants – which in turn endangers both plant and animal life that thrive in the water and harms the environment at large. The only way to prevent this from happening is to follow all safety rules and best practices.
Here are some ways in which boaters can enjoy their rest and recreation, while making sure that they do not end up harming the environment.
Avoid Oil and Fuel Spills
Not surprisingly, oil spills are one of the biggest environmental hazards that comes with boating. In fact, as much as 30% of oil used in two-stroke engines actually ends up being spit into the water.
Fortunately, this can be prevented. For starters, you must always fuel your boat at the dock and not in the water to prevent even the most minuscule of accidental spillages. You must also refrain from filling the gas tank to the brim – this often causes leakage as gasoline tends to expand and overflow with the application of engine heat. Additionally, make sure to conduct regular checks on your tank for any fissures or cracks that could potentially cause a leakage, and repair them well before you enter the water.
Last but not the least, if you do encounter any leakages or find any fuel leaked in the water (whatever its source may be), you must immediately report it – this will help reduce the damage caused to a great extent.
Control Potential Pollutants
Oil and fuels are not the only category of liquid pollutants – human (and sometimes animal) waste, cosmetics, and paints also cause considerable pollution when exposed to the water.
This too can be easily prevented – for starters, you must have a suitable solution (like a Marine Sanitation Device) for disposing sewage. Make sure to take any paints and other maintenance-related chemicals off of the boat before you enter the water, and in case you are going swimming, make sure to rinse off any sunscreens, repellents and/or any other cosmetics as much as is possible.
Be Wary of Garbage
Besides oil and liquid spills, garbage is the biggest pollutant that threatens marine life. It is not at all uncommon for animals to accidentally ingest garbage, which almost always turns out to be fatal.
Garbage from boats constitutes a wide range of things, from trash (such as papers and wrappers), to boating-related items (like fishing hooks and lines) to toys used by children. As a boater, you must make sure to follow the golden rule of never dumping any trash into the water – every item you bring on board must go back with you to the dock. Keep bins to store garbage, bags for fishing gear, and boxes for toys. Ensure that nothing is left in the open that can be blown away into the water. Also make sure to collect toys when they are not in use.
Keep Your Eyes Open
When it comes to boating (and especially so if you are the one operating the boat), staying vigilant at all times is a must. While it is common practice to be aware of swimmers, surfers and other boaters, there are other things one must take care of as well. As a boater, you should be aware of the animals in the area they are sailing in and must make it a point to take note of specific areas where fragile habitats thrive. This is not too difficult, as these areas – generally called “no wake” zones, are always marked.
Additionally, avoid shallow water and sea grass wherever it is possible. Not only can boating in such areas cause your boat to get stuck, it has the potential to destroy the plant habitat. Also make sure to adjust your propeller as and when necessary in order to avoid stirring up any sediment that can potentially disrupt the water’s mineral composition.
Last but not the least, you must refrain from boating at night, especially if you don’t fulfill the adequate requirements or are new to the activity. Also keep off of any and all alcohol when on the water – alcohol consumption causes impairment in awareness and judgement, which will only make you more prone to accidents.