Florida’s pledge to Clean Boating Habits

                No matter where you stand in the state of Florida, you can never be more than 75 miles from a coast. Water defines Florida with more than 8,400 miles of shoreline, 7,000 lakes covering 3 million acres and 51,000 miles of rivers, streams, and creeks. Boaters share the responsibility for preserving the marine way of life by keeping waterways and shorelines healthy and vibrant.

Economy: Florida has a state tourism industry of $67.2 billion a year. $6.9 billion of that comes from the saltwater fishing industry that relies on healthy and clean waterways and coastlines. Florida has adopted many programs from the Environmental Protection Department that encourages clean boating in all aspects of the marine industry.

The Florida Clean Marina Program is a non-cost assistance program that implements the best management practices to reduce Marina’s impact on the environment through provided workshops, continuing education, onsite instruction and mentoring by other Clean Marinas. The Clean Boatyard Program is very similar in the ways boatyards monitor and educates participants. The Clean Boatyard Program encouraged clean practices such as using dustless sanders, oil, and solvent recycling and recirculating pressure washer systems, all of which help preserve the state’s natural resources. The Clean Marine Retailer Program is alike the two listed above. To become designated to the Retailer Program, retailers need to implement a variety of best management practices in their boat engine servicing operations and facilities.

Pitch in, pump out: The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Clean Vessel Act (CVA) grant program provides funding to marinas for the purchase, installation, maintenance, repair and operation of boater pump out and dump station facilities. To date, Florida has awarded more than $16 million of Clean Vessel Act grant funds throughout the state. These funds have been used to install or operate more than 450 pumps out stations and vessels, diverting more than 13 million gallons of sewage from our waters.

Florida’s Goals: These are all Florida’s Clean Boating Goals. All of these are practices boaters can use in any location. 1) Eliminate possible sources of pollution from areas that can be affected by storms during Hurricane Season. 2) Reduce petroleum base pollution in Florida’s surface waters to maintain a healthy, beautiful environment. 3) Use cleaning methods and cleaners that eliminate the risks of hazards to aquatic life and the environment. 4) Prevent the introduction of exotic plants and wildlife into Florida’s pure waters.  5) Preserve and protect native vegetation and wildlife as part of Florida’s natural environment. 6) Manage and dispose of all solid waste properly to keep our waters clean. 7) Eliminate the use or generation of hazardous materials. When used, dispose of hazardous waste properly. 8) Practice sound fish waste management through responsible cleaning and waste disposal. 9) When possible, use managed mooring areas to minimize or eliminate damage to the marine floor environment.

Florida has taken measures to ensure these practices and programs are utilized in the most proper manner to help keep our oceans clean and safe for future boaters. Florida can be used as a model for all areas to ensure all boaters care for clean and healthy waterways and ocean coastlines.