Michigan Clean Marina Program explains ways to reduce pollution while boating

The public-private sector partnership focuses education efforts on boaters, who can do their part in minimizing the impact of boating on the environment.

The Michigan Clean Marina Program primarily works with marinas to adopt environmentally sound and economically feasible practices to reduce the impact of boating on the environment. Recently, the program unveiled a display to focus education efforts on boaters, whose behaviors can have an even greater impact on Michigan’s waters and shores. During the recent Detroit Boat Show, several educational topics were displayed and explained to boaters. These included:

  • how to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species through inspection and cleaning of your boat;
  • the impact of lake level changes on the recreational boating industry and recreational fishery;
  • the impact of marine debris and litter in the water and on shore;
  • how to recycle boat shrink-wrap;, and
  • different ways boaters can reduce their chance for inadvertently spilling fuel or oil into the environment.

Littering and fuel/oil spillage prevention were highlighted through displays of items that people can use while boating. Keep Michigan Beautiful provided hundreds of cupholder and pocket ashtrays from Keep America Beautiful’s Cigarette Litter Prevention Program to make sure people do not flick their cigarette butts in the water or along shorelines. Litter, including cigarette litter, makes recreation activities in or along the water less enjoyable, and can degrade habitats used by fish and coastal creatures.

Examples of items designed to prevent fuel and oil discharges into the water were on display, and used to emphasize the many ways boaters can inadvertently release harmful substances into the environment.  While fueling, it may seem obvious that an absorbent rag around the fuel nozzle can reduce chance of spillage, but oftentimes fuel can spill out of the fuel vent when too much fuel is pumped onboard, or if it is pumped too quickly. Devices that collect the fuel that discharges out of the fuel vent, or that audibly let boaters know when their tank is getting full, can ensure that accidental spillage out of the fuel vent does not occur. Many of these items are included in “Boater Pollution Prevention Kits,” assembled as part of the Green Marina Education and Outreach Project; a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative project funded through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and led by Michigan Sea Grant, a partner in the Michigan Clean Marina Program.

The Michigan Clean Marina Program is a cooperative effort of the Michigan Boating Industries Association, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy and Michigan Sea Grant College Program (Michigan State University Extension and the University of Michigan).

Boaters who want to stay at a Michigan Clean Marina can find one by visiting the Location page of the Michigan Clean Marina website. In addition, marinas who want to learn more about the program can read about it on the Michigan Clean Marina Program website or may contact Erin DeVris, Michigan Sea Grant program coordinator at edevries@umich.edu, or Michigan Sea Grant Extension educator Mark Breederland at mbreederl@msu.edu.

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