Whether it’s fishing or just enjoying a day out on the water, boating regularly is an enjoyable benefit of living in Southwest Florida. However, boating also has the potential to introduce pollution directly to the environment. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) has a Clean Boater Program to promote the awareness of and practices that can keep our waterways clean. Being a clean boater is easy, just check out these tips! Protect the water for you, for the fishes, and for everyone else’s enjoyment! For more information, check out FDEP’s website at: https://floridadep.gov/fco/cva/content/clean-boater-program.
· Hurricane preparedness- whether it’s docked or on a trailer there are options to minimize property and environmental damage from a hurricane; have a plan.
· Proper fueling – be attentive and don’t leave the gas pump unattended when fueling to prevent a spill and consider buying technology that helps to prevent fuel spills.
· Spill cleanup – keep absorbent pads on hand to use for gas/oil spills in the boat or on the water.
· Boat cleaning – use non-toxic cleaners and ensure that wash water goes into the grass rather than a drain or down the boat ramp and back into the water.
· Protect plants and sea life – pay attention to signage for manatee zones and protected areas and choose to walk or pole a boat out of grass beds.
· Don’t litter – stow all loose items to prevent them being blown into the water and don’t throw anything overboard.
· Hazardous waste disposal – call your local solid and hazardous waste group to determine how used paints, oils, and batteries can be disposed of in your area.
· Fish waste management – prevent bacteria, nutrients, and low dissolved oxygen at bay or inshore marinas by dumping excess bait and gutting fish offshore or at a station with a trash and wastewater hookup.
· Human waste management – use pumpout facilities and properly maintain your onboard toilet.
· Support Clean Marinas – several marinas in the area have taken extra steps to gain “Clean Marina” certification to prevent pollution from their marina and they deserve support.
Protect the water for you, for the fishes, and for everyone else’s enjoyment! For more information or to find the most recent list of designated Clean Marinas, check out FDEP’s website at: https://floridadep.gov/fco/cva/content/clean-boater-program.