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Boating and The Environment

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 16 Oct 2010 | comments*Discuss
Environment Agency Environment Boating

If you are concerned about the impact of boating upon the environment, the Environment Agency, alongside the likes of British Waterways, should be your first port of call if you’re looking to obtain some advice.

They can provide you with leaflets and other sources of useful information which will help you to still enjoy your boating activities whilst, at the same time, showing a healthy respect for conservation and the environment so that generations to come will also be able to reap the benefits of what is a very popular pastime for many people.

The Main Environmental Concerns

The likes of the Environment Agency would point to a number of primary areas of concern when it comes to the impact of boating upon the environment. These primarily surround the following issues:

  • Noise pollution
  • Effects on birds and other wildlife species
  • Effects of chemicals, gases and solid wastes
  • Shoreline, flora and fauna degradation

Noise Pollution

Whether it’s out on the river itself or enjoying yourself in the evening on your boat or at a boating club or marina, the amount of noise you generate is going to have an impact upon the environment and will also affect the enjoyment of others as well as any disturbance it may cause to wildlife.

From the perspective of your boat’s engine, a well maintained one is not only going to be more environmentally friendly but it’s likely to be a lot quieter too. You can also have noise insulation fitted too. This will not only cause fewer disturbances to wildlife but will also enable others to enjoy their experiences on the water too.

Chemicals, Gases & Solid Wastes

Boat exhaust emissions can consist of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, hydrocarbons and various other pollutants. These days you can buy engines which run off bio-diesel and there are even those which are electrically powered.

The Environment Agency should be able to point you in the direction of the kinds of things you should be considering when buying a boat engine and the Recreational Craft Directive ensures that most new boat engines are as efficient and as ecologically sound as they can be.

Solid waste is another area of concern that the Environment Agency would like people to consider. This can be related to sewage and pump out facilities as well as how boaters discard other domestic waste such as plastic bottle, food wrappers and packaging.

If due care and attention is not given, it can have drastic effects on both the safety of birds and wildlife as well as lowering the quality of the water and the overall appearance of our magnificent waterways.

Effects On Wildlife

Whilst observing wildlife up at close quarters has to be one of the greatest natural thrills of the pleasures of boating, it’s important we do so with the minimum of effect to wildlife.

Therefore, things like slowing down when you’re approaching the shoreline where there may be nesting sites, keeping a close eye on wildlife that might be using the same stretch of water as you and using designated landing places when you’re coming ashore are just some of the things you need to consider.

The last thing you want to be doing is disturbing wildlife which could even force some species to abandon their young.

Shoreline, Flora & Fauna Degradation

Boating in narrow and shallow stretches of water should be approached with great care in order to protect the environment. Try not to create excessive wash as it can disturb vegetation, destroy nesting grounds and can speed up shoreline erosion.

To obtain more boating information about how you can help to protect the environment whilst out on our rivers and canals, the Green Blue has a website which offers useful practical advice. There are also links on its website to its sponsors and partners which include the Environment Agency.

British Waterways is also a useful organisation to go to for further boating information relating to the protection and conservation of the environment.

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