We don't have to give up boating to save our lakes, but we can take precautions to ensure that our lakes and environment will outlive us in its current (or better) condition. Here are some easy to implement environmentally friendly boating practices. Please remember that while some of these tips apply only to powerboats, canoes and kayaks are equally responsible for maintaining our aquatic environment. Because canoes and kayaks can often reach inlets and other areas that powerboats cannot, we must proceed with caution when we are using them to ensure that aquatic life is not disturbed or destroyed.
In the spring, we like to get our boats glistening for the first ride of the season and most of us have favourite cleaners that have never let us down but it is our job to make sure that in the process we're not letting the environment down. Before you start cleaning in the spring (and throughout the summer), make sure that the product you're using is certified by Environment Canada's Environmental Choice Program. You can identify these friendly green products by the EcoLogo (three doves that form a maple leaf) that it will bear. Or, try these homemade methods of keeping your boat spick and span from www.coastalaction.org/downloads/CB/cleanboat_guide.pdf .
Some other easy changes you can make to your boating routine that can have significant benefits for the environment are:
"Watch your Wake!"
Here are some important reminders the next time you are out on the lake:
- 10 km/h within 30 metres of the shoreline is the law!
- Always avoid waterfowl nests and other sensitive wildlife habitats
- Always follow safe refueling guidelines to avoid polluting water
- Consider using non-lead fishing tackle
- Obey posted speed limits and "No Wake" zones and know your boat's wakefree speed
- Remember that operating your boat on plane creates a smaller wake than when 'plowing' through the water at lower speeds
Prevent the spread of bio-invaders! Since making North America their home in 1988, zebra mussels have spread tor lakes by absorbing lake floor food supplies that other organisms that are in turn eaten by fish need to survive. As a result, the bottom-feeder organisms are starving and the impact is taking effect throughout the food chain of fresh-water creatures. You can help to prevent the spread of zebra mussels by inspecting your boat, trailer and all accessory equipment that has been in the water when you remove your boat from a lake, before moving it to another lake. Also, immediately empty any water within your boat, such as your motor, live wells, bilge and transom wells in the area from which it came and never transport weeds, algae, or sand from one lake to another. If you can't use water to rid some of your gear of bio invaders, soak it in vinegar for 20 minutes to lower the pH and kill the organisms. Or, if all this seems a little too much for you to do, you can do your part by simply letting your boat dry out in the sun for five days.
Save your sewage! Marine toilets use less water than regular toilets per flush and thus, one weekend boater's discharge of untreated sewage is equal to the amount from one weekend boater's discharge of untreated sewage is equal to the amount from the treated sewage of 10 000 people during the same time period. (www.coastalaction.org). Save your sewage until you reach a proper pump out zone and save our waters from bacterial contamination.
A little goes a long way. Environment Canada reports that recreational boating in North America contributes up to one billion litres/year of hydrocarbon and oil pollution in coastal waters. That's 15 times the amount of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill. Don't contribute to this shocking statistic. Use caution while refueling. Clean Boater recommends using an absorbent donut around the nozzle or having a rag at hand to wipe up minor spills. Also, carry a bilge boom on-board. Bilge booms can be used to absorb oil.