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  • Writer's pictureBoating-greece

How boating burden the marine environment and ecosystems? Tips for eco-friendly navigation

While a day on the boat may sound fun and relaxing, environmentally conscious yacht enthusiasts should consider: what is their boat doing to the ecosystem around them? Perhaps unsurprisingly, several studies have identified dozens of unintended and unexpected environmental hazards associated with boating, which may cause many to reevaluate how they spend their days on the water.

Impact on water

Studies of water quality and clarity found that in heavily trafficked waterways, boats did have a noticeable impact. The presence of vessels appeared to increase algal growth and throw up sediment, which blocks sunlight and spoils the water. In addition, deposits left by boats can change water chemistry by adding too much of certain compounds, such as zinc and copper, or by making an environment too alkaline or acidic. Declining water quality is bad for both wildlife and humans.

Effects on wildlife

Since boats are large, intrusive and dangerous vehicles, it is not difficult for most owners to understand that their boats have a negative impact on wildlife. Most people are very familiar with the history of the manatee, whose populations plummeted when motorboats began plying their shallow habitats around Florida. Because cabbages are notoriously slow - the sloths of tropical water - they cannot avoid extremely fast craft, and collisions with hulls or scrapes from propellers often cause fatal harm. However, propellers alone cannot be held responsible for even a small percentage of the damage caused to freshwater and marine wildlife.

In fact, a large number of wildlife injuries are caused by smaller, less noticeable aspects of boats. Chemicals used to clean, protect and operate boats are often washed into the water, severely affecting the environment and weakening or killing wildlife. Aquatic plants and animals have specific requirements for light, temperature, pH level and more, and toxins from detergents, paints, petroleum products, batteries and metals have devastating effects on wildlife's ability to survive and thrive, including cancer, mutations , birth defects, and immediate death.

Dangers to humans

People should be even more concerned about the effects of boats on the natural environment. Many freshwater waterways used for recreational boating are also exploited for drinking water or used as fishing grounds for fish, shellfish and other food. Unfortunately, toxins that endanger aquatic life are also a threat to humans. Consuming contaminated water or seafood is likely to cause widespread health problems. In fact, swimming alone in heavily trafficked waterways is known to harm health because some toxins, such as tributyltin (TBT) in antifouling paints, can be absorbed through the skin or eyes. Even humans are not safe from the pollution caused by boats.

Eco-friendly navigation

The aforementioned information may surprise many sailors who love sea trips, but do not wish to pollute the environment from their marine activity. However, it is possible to continue boating without having such a profound impact on the water and wildlife.

Newer brands and models of boats tend to be more fuel efficient and less prone to leaks and degradation that endanger underwater ecosystems, so owners of older boats should seriously consider upgrading to more sustainable boats. In addition, boat maintenance is vital to both increasing the life of a boat and protecting the environment. The following practices are essential:

  • Carbon Footprint

A carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases (including carbon dioxide) produced directly or indirectly by our activities and lifestyle. Learn how to calculate your boat's carbon footprint, and ways to reduce and/or offset your impact.

  • Reduce Fuel Usage

How you maintain and drive your vessel has a large of effect on how much fuel you use – and how much money you can save!

  • Outboard Engines

Outboard engines have come a long way – learn about types motors that are both clean and cost effective to operate.

  • Biodiesel

This renewable, non-toxic, clean-burning fuel can be a great alternative to conventional diesel – and requires very few (if any) modifications for switching over.

  • Renewable Energy

Sun, wind and water – all things we love as boaters – can also be a source of energy to help power our boats. Discover which technologies work best for your vessel.

  • Anchoring

Learn proper anchoring techniques to prevent damage to important ecosystems including coral reefs, seagrass and shellfish beds.

  • Boating Near Marine Wildlife

Ensure that you have a memorable experience without disturbing marine wildlife by following a few simple guidelines. Additionally, protect animals from injury by getting protection when sailing in shallow water.

Eco-Friendly Products

  • Non-Toxic Cleaning Products

Deciding which cleaning product to use on your vessel can be daunting, but with the proper research and knowledge you can find a cleaner that is ideal for both your boat and the environment.

  • Bottom Paint

Many boats use copper-based bottom paints, which can harm aquatic wildlife. Learn about eco-friendly alternatives that will not only lessen your boat’s environmental impact, but may also save you money!

  • Sunscreens

When you go swimming, your sunscreen can wash off into the water, and some have chemicals that can harm marine wildlife. Learn about our top choices for eco-friendly SPF products.

Boat Maintenance

  • General Maintenance

Proactively managing your vessel reduces harmful environmental impacts, and also extends the life of your engine and boat.

  • Engine Maintenance

Routine maintenance will ensure that your local waterways are protected and your engine is performing properly.

  • Bilge Maintenance

Prevent oils and other toxic chemicals from sneaking into the ocean by inspecting and maintaining your bilge.

  • Winterizing

Storing your boat properly for the winter will ensure that you protect the environment while also protecting it from possible damage due to bad weather conditions.



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