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Good Boating Practices & Tips
Maryland Clean Marina Initiative

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Be a Responsible Boater

  • Practice the 3 R's (Reduce, Reuse & Recycle)
  • Use only environmentally friendly products, practices, procedures & share this information with others
  • Encourage boating facilities to provide trash cans, recycling bins & pumpout services - support / use only environmentally responsible marinas
  • Obey all applicable rules, regulations & laws (vessel operation, littering, discharge, ...)

Maintain Your Vessel Wisely

  • Collect all paint chips, dust & residue.  Dispose in regular trash.
  • Share leftover paint & varnish
  • Dispose of patroleum products (solvents, oil, gas, et al.) at hazardous waste collection sites (may be available only on specific days)
  • Keep engine clean so you can spot leaks
  • Slip plastic bag over used oil filters before removing to capture drips
  • Use alternatives to toxic bottom paints

Contain Trash

  • Buy products without plastic (deadly to fish & birds) or excessive packaging 
  • Purchase refreshments in recyclable containers
  • Pack food in reusable containers
  • Do not toss (including cigarette butts) or let anything get blown overboard.  Immediately retrieve any items that accidently endup in water using them as an opportunity to practice “person-overboard” drills.


  • Recycle cans, glass, plastic, newspaper, antifreeze, oil & lead batteries (For locations call 1-800-4-RECYCLE or visit Maryland Recycling
  • Deposit used or unwanted monofilament fishing line into appropriately marked recycling bins at boat ramp, marinas or tackle shops
  • Recycle Watercraft & RV Shrink Wrap (some potential re-cycling options)

Bilge Oil Management

  • Place oil absorbent pad under engines & keep oil absorbent sheets or bioremediation log near bilge pumps
  • Secure fuel hoses to prevent chafing / leaks & regularly check for damage (be sure hoses alcohol / ethanol resistant)
  • Maintain engine - keep well tuned & fix leaking seals, gaskets or hoses
  • Never discharge bilge water with sheen - it is illegal & stiff fines can be imposed!

Oil Absorbent Sheet / Pad / Log Management

  • Check oil absorbent materials regularly & replace or clean as needed
  • If saturated with gas, allow to air dry.  Reuse.
  • If saturated with diesel or oil, double bag in plastic - one bag sealed inside another.  Dispose in regular trash.
  • Do not seal bioremediation materials in plastic bags - microbes need oxygen to function.  Dispose in regular trash.

Fish Waste Management

  • Process your catch of the day only at "fish cleaning stations" typically located on docks or at marinas
  • Do not let fish waste get into local waters (use as chum, bait or appropriately discard in trash)

Protect Sensitive Habitat

  • Do not disturb wildlife
  • Proceed slowly in shallow areas
  • Avoid contact with submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV)
  • Watch wake  --  it can cause shoreline erosion & disturb wildlife plus you are responsible for any damage it causes.

Clean Gently

  • Wash boat frequently with a sponge & plain water
  • Conserve water -- use spray nozzle on hose
  • Use phosphate-free, biodegradable & non-toxic cleaners (use detergents sparingly)
  • Wax boat regularly -- a good coat of wax prevents surface dirt from becoming ingrained
  • Clean wood with mild soap powder & nylon brush -- not harsh chemical cleaners

Fuel Management

  • Check fuel level before heading out (follow 1/3 rule ==> 1/3 out, 1/3 return & 1/3 reserve for emergencies)
  • Use oil absorbent material to catch drips from fuel fill & overflow vent
  • Fill portable fuel tanks ashore (spills less likely to occur & easier to clean up)
  • Conserve fuel by operating at maximum of two-thirds (2/3) throttle (saves money & helps environment)
  • Add fuel conditioner (stabilizer) to tank if engine used infrequently
  • Never top-up tanks (fuel expands as it warms, fill only to 90% on return or at night)


  • Never discharge raw sewage on inland waters

  • Use restrooms on shore whenever possible
  • Underway, use approved Marine Sanitation Devices (MSDs)
  • Use enzyme based products to control holding tank odor & reduce solids (avoid using quarternary ammonium compounds (QAC) & formaldehyde)
  • Pumpout & rinse holding tanks regularly
  • In allowed off-shore waters & only if absolutely necessary, after properly treating & processing through a mercerator pump Type I or II MSDs may be discharged, but never over oyster bars
  • Maryland Pumpout Facilities ($5.00 for up to 50 gallons + $0.10 / gallon over 50)
       During boating season on-the-water service available:
    • West/Rhodes Rivers: Thursday - Monday 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM:
        call 410-533-9002 or hail "Honey Dipper" on VHF Ch 71 (maybe FREE)
    • Severn River/Spa Creek: Daily 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM:
        call 410-263-7973 or hail "Annapolis Pumpout Boat" on VHF Ch 9 or 17
  • Establish regular MSD maintenance schedule based on manufacturer’s recommendations
Maryland Clean Marina Initiative

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

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Good Boating Practices & Tips

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