lake tahoe and its beautiful blue water
lake tahoe and its beautiful blue water

Environmental Tips

Ten Ways to More Environmentally Friendly Boating

Boaters have a vested interest in clean water, which is able to support diverse fish and wildlife. One by one our collective actions add up. Here are some ideas about how you can help the waters while boating.

  1. Stash your trash. Never throw anything into the water that didn’t come out of it. Keep trash, even food waste, onboard and bring it back to recycle or throw away on shore.
  2. Fish for the future. Learn proper catch and release techniques and use them after you've caught what you need.
  3. Respect marine wildlife. Don’t feed or harass dolphins and other mammals. Reduce speed and give a wide berth to whales and manatees.
  4. Watch your wake. Large wakes can unnecessarily accelerate shoreline erosion. Throttle back in narrow waterways. Use moorings rather than anchoring in environmentally delicate areas such as coral reef. When snorkeling or diving, never touch any live coral.
  5. Comply with sewage standards. Install a Coast Guard- approved marine sanitation device on your boat and use it. Consult up-to-date cruising guides for the locations of pump- out facilities. If you can’t find one in your area, organize boat owners to convince your local marina to install one.
  6. Establish a boat rule that no trash goes overboard - even cigarette butts. While orienting guests aboard your boat, let them know about this rule and the reasons behind it.
  7. Use moorings rather than anchoring in environmentally delicate areas like coral reefs.
  8. Less is more. Reduce the amount of packaging and plastic you take aboard. Pack food in Tupperware, use bulk containers of chips, soda, etc.
  9. Know the water. Avoid shallow waters, reefs, and sandbars. You can not only avoid the cost of a tow, potential fine, and the damage done to your boat, but you can also help protect fragile marine plants and animals.
  10. Get involved. You can make an even greater impact by donating money and/or your time to environmental action groups, from national organizations such as the BoatU.S. Foundation as well as regional and local groups. Be a watchdog. If you’re out on the water and see oil or chemical spills or other pollution, call the Coast Guard’s National Response Center hotline (800-424-8802).

For further reading on these topics and other boating information, The BoatU.S. Foundation recommends any of the following:

  • Chapman's Piloting by: Elbert S. Maloney
  • Chapman's Hands-On Powerboating CD ROM
  • The Annapolis Book of Seamanship by: John Rousmaniere
  • US Power Squadron Booklets (Knots, Sailing, GPS, Radar, etc.)
  • US Coast Guard Auxiliary's Skipper's Safe Boating Course