Running a responsible marina

Marinas serve as a playground for boaters, but they also have a responsibility to the environment as well as the safety of their visitors. Brenda Leonard, program manager for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Clean Marina Program, shared the following tips with Boating Industry magazine on how to make your marina cleaner.

• Provide an environmental resource person to work with staff and boaters — This person is already on staff and is willing to become an environmental champion. Both staff and boaters are directed to turn to this person for any questions, needed services or items they would like disposed of correctly.

• Implement best practices beyond state regulations — There are a number of practices that qualify, but Leonard recommends the following: 1) Use pumpout facilities rather than discharging waste. 2) Use only soft cloths to wash boats instead of soaps. 3) Boats that need scraping or painting should be hauled so barnacles and paint chips can be properly disposed of. 4) Recycle used oil through the marina or at the nearest oil-recycling center.

• Implement pollution prevention measures: reduce, reuse, recycle — These measures need to be stressed with marina staff, Leonard says. The information should also be communicated to boaters, who produce waste such as used bilge switches, light bulbs and used oil, so they know where to recycle hazardous items.

• Be prepared for a spill with a plan and a trained staff — The sooner spills are addressed, less damage is done to the environment. Also, a trained staff will equate to having fewer spills in the first place, Leonard says.

• Provide pumpout services to boaters and encourage their use — Marinas should advertise these services throughout their communications, including in the lease agreement.

• Post environmental policies — This is an opportunity to inform boaters of the marina’s policies, which shows it is committed to the environment. Also, if they know what to do, boaters will generally do the right thing, Leonard says.

For more information on best marina practices and Florida’s Clean Marina Program, go to and download Leonard’s “Put Your Marina Ahead of the Curve.”

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