Of the many benefits associated with
living in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, pleasure
boating tops the list. There are more than 200,000
registered boats in Maryland, as well as numerous
visits by non-resident vessels each year.
Marylanders and our visitors regularly enjoy other
water-related activities too, like fishing and
swimming. It's up to all of us to take steps to
ensure that we do not harm our waterways as we
appreciate all they have to offer.
Under federal and state laws, it is illegal to
discharge raw sewage in Maryland waters or within
U.S. territorial waters. Raw or poorly treated
sewage can contaminate seafood and is harmful to
human health and water quality.
All vessels with installed toilets must have an
approved Marine Sanitation Device to treat or
contain sewage. The most common is a holding tank,
which stores sewage until it can be emptied at a
pump-out facility. Boaters should make sure that
their "Y" valve is secured so that no sewage is
discharged from a holding tank. (For information on
the location of the 260 pump-outs located at
marinas statewide, call 410-260-8770). Other
systems may treat sewage to certain standards, but
do not remove nutrients. These systems should only
be discharged in deep open water, away from oyster
beds, swim areas, other boats and poorly flushed
Because marinas are located in a unique setting
-- where air, land and water meet -- they can
greatly impact our natural resources. The Maryland
Clean Marina Initiative promotes voluntary adoption
of measures to reduce pollution from marinas and
recreational boats. For a pollution prevention
guidebook for marina operations, call
It comes as no surprise that petroleum products
are harmful -- even fatal -- to aquatic life. If
you see a spill that creates a sheen on the water,
please report it immediately to the U.S. Coast
Guard and the Maryland Department of the
Boaters should fill tanks to only 90 percent of
capacity. "Topping off" nearly always results in a
spill when fuel rushes out the vent and over the
side. Inexpensive petroleum absorbent materials are
available to help catch splashes and spills, as
well as to catch spills or leaks in the engine
compartment or bilge.
Though nearly all engines contribute to
pollution in one way or another, 2-stroke engines
are particularly harmful. Commonly used as outboard
motors or on personal watercrafts (jet skis),
2-stroke engines discharge one-quarter of their
fuel, unburnt, into the water. According to the
Environmental Protection Agency, a 70-horsepower,
2-stroke engine, running for one hour, releases as
much hydrocarbon pollution as a car driven 5,000
Quieter 4-stroke engines are far more efficient.
They are 40 times cleaner than old 2-strokes and
seven to 10 times cleaner than new models. Although
4-stroke engines cost a bit more than comparable
2-strokes, they get four times the gas mileage.
Keep the environment in mind when doing regular
maintenance chores -- like scraping, sanding,
painting and changing engine fluids.
- Collect all paint chips, dust and residue
(use tarps, dustless sanders) and dispose in
- Share leftover paints and varnishes, and
follow label directions for disposal.
- Choose propylene glycol antifreeze --
it's less toxic.
- Use a bottom paint developed for the
- Recycle used oil, oil filters and
- Bring used solvents and waste gasoline to
local hazardous waste collection days.
- Call 1-800-4-RECYCLE for locations of
recycling centers and information about
hazardous waste collection days.
This one is easy! Never throw anything
overboard. Reduce trash by reusing or recycling
containers. Cigarette butts are harmful to aquatic
life and are not biodegradable.
In addition to addressing safety, many speed
limits, no- wake zones and other restrictions also
protect shorelines and wildlife habitat. Boaters
who obey these restrictions reduce the impact of
boat wakes that lead to shoreline erosion and
disruption of sensitive feeding and spawning areas.
In shallow areas, reducing speed also protects Bay
grasses that provide critical habitat for crabs and
- Good fishing habits and ethics
- Carry required licenses and permits.
- Obey size and creel limits.
- Recycle fishing gear or fishing line.
- Use non-offset circle hooks when chumming or
bait fishing (reduces deep hooking and mortality
of released fish).
- Fish for another species once you have
caught your limit of a specific fish.
- Bring back only those fish you plan to eat.
Carefully release others.
- When cleaning fish, use a fish cleaning
station or dumpster to handle the remains
-- don't put them back in the water.