Clean Boating Resources

The support and patronage of boaters is key to the success of the Maryland Clean Marina Initiative. In order to promote environmentally responsible boating, the Initiative has incorporated educational materials for boaters into the Maryland Clean Marina Guidebook. Other materials-such as clean boating tip cards and oil absorbent pads–are being distributed to boaters through marinas and at public events. Call (410) 260-8773 or email us if you would like to receive boater education materials.

Clean Boating Tip Sheets

General Clean Boating Tips

For use around marinas and while on the water anywhere.

Contain Trash

  • Do no let trash get thrown or blown overboard
  • If trash blows overboard, retrieve it--consider it “crew-overboard” practice
  • Pack food in reusable containers
  • Buy products without plastic or excessive packaging--plastic is deadly to fish and birds
  • Do not toss cigarette butts overboard--they are made of plastic (cellulose acetate)
  • Purchase refreshments in recyclable containers


Fuel Cautiously

  • Remember, fuel expands as it warms up
  • Fill your tank just before leaving on a trip
  • If you fill your tank upon your return to port, fill it only 90%
  • Use oil absorbent material to catch drips from the fuel intake and the vent overflow
  • Fill portable fuel tanks ashore--where spills are less
  • Add a fuel conditioner to your tank if you use your engine infrequently

Control Oil In The Bilge

  • Keep your engine well tuned--no leaking seals, gaskets or hoses
  • Place oil absorbent material or a bioremediating bilge boom in the bilge
  • Place an oil absorbent pad under the engine
  • Replace oil absorbent materials regularly
  • Check fuel lines for damage--replace with alcohol resistant hoses
  • Secure fuel hoses to prevent chafing and leaks
  • Never discharge bilge water with a sheen--it is illegal

Properly Dispose of Oil Absorbent Materials

  • If the pad is saturated with gas, allow it to air dry. Reuse.
  • If the pad is saturated with diesel or oil, double bag it in plastic--one bag sealed inside another. Dispose in your regular trash.
  • Bioremediating bilge booms should not be sealed in plastic bags--the microbes need oxygen to function. Discard in regular trash.

Clean Gently

  • Wash your boat frequently with a sponge and plain water
  • Use detergents sparingly
  • Use phosphate-free, biodegradable and non-toxic cleaners
  • Clean wood with a mild soap powder and a nylon brush--not harsh chemical cleaners
  • Conserve water--put a spray nozzle on your hose

Maintain Your Vessel Wisely

  • Collect all paint chips, dust and residue. Dispose in regular trash.
  • Share leftover paint and varnish
  • Bring used solvents and waste gas to local hazardous waste collection day
  • Keep your engine clean so you can spot leaks
  • Slip a plastic bag over used oil filters before they are removed to capture drips
  • Use premium two-cycle engine oil
  • Use alternatives to toxic bottom paints


  • Never discharge raw sewage in Maryland waters
  • Use restrooms on shore
  • Under way, use approved Marine Sanitation Devices (MSDs)
  • Discharge Type I or II MSDs over deep water--avoid discharging in swimming areas, marinas, anchorages or over oyster bars
  • Establish regular maintenance schedule for your MSD based on manufacturer’s recommendations
  • Pumpout and rinse hold tanks regularly
  • Use enzyme based products to control odor and reduce solids in holding tanks
  • Avoid holding tank products that contain quarternary ammonium compounds (QAC) and formaldehyde

Dispose Of Fish Waste Properly

  • Do not throw fish waste into marina waters
  • Use fish cleaning stations where provided on docks or at marinas
  • Discard waste over deep water or in the trash
  • Save waste and use as chum or bait

Protect Sensitive Habitat

  • Proceed slowly in shallow areas
  • Do not disturb wildlife
  • Avoid contact with submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV)
  • Watch your wake--it can lead to shoreline erosion and disturb wildlife

Be A Responsible Boater

  • Learn about products and practices which are environmentally safe
  • Share the information with other boaters
  • Help guests understand that, on your boat, no trash is thrown overboard
  • Obey laws governing speeding, littering and discharge
  • Encourage boating facilities to provide trash cans, recycling bins and pumpout stations
  • Support marinas that are environmentally responsible

Funded in part by National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration Award No. NA670Z0302

Clean Boating Lesson Plan

The Clean Boating Lesson Plan may be used by any instructor wishing to educate boaters about general pollution prevention measures. It is divided into four slide shows, each followed by a handout for students. You may preview the slide shows by following the links below or save the files to your own computer for more detail. Once downloaded and saved to your computer, you can open the slide shows in MS Power Point and view the “instructor’s notes” section. The notes provide much needed detail for presenting the slides to students.

The “Lesson Plan Introduction and Instructions” will also provide an overview and table of contents for all four sections of the Lesson Plan. Please email the Clean Marina Program at with any questions.

Each segment contains an MS Power Point slide show with speaking notes for the instructor, and a handout for students. Additional resources are also mentioned in the slide show notes for instructors seeking more information on a given topic.​