From coastal shallows to expansive blue water, treasured habitats and ecosystems around the world are under attack and threatened by a host of complex factors. While there are many challenges to overcome and numerous facets that contribute to the health of our seas, many of these aspects are out of our hands. However, as an environmentally conscious boater your direct interaction can have a significant impact on the surrounding environment. Respect nature and do your best to leave no trail or footprint while enjoying the great outdoors.
With over 663 miles of beaches, 2,276 miles of tidal shoreline and the expansive open ocean, Florida offers plenty of ways to enjoy the outdoors. However, with more and more boaters spending time on the water these precious treasures are facing threats like never before. As responsible boaters it’s important we lead the way by demonstrating environmentally friendly boating practices to set the stage for future generations. We all have stake in the environment and if we set a good example for those around us we can make a serious impact on the environment we cherish. By operating as an eco-friendly boater you can make certain our grandchildren will be able to take pleasure in the waters as well. Enjoying the outdoors relies heavily on the experiences and acts that are highlighted by clean water and healthy habitats that enable game fish and animals to flourish.
Unfortunately, trash that makes its way to the water isn’t just a localized problem and the effects can be felt worldwide.
Trash that makes its way to the water, to our shorelines and onto our beaches, whether deliberate or incidental, makes an immediate impact as an eyesore to the pristine natural environment, but it can also be detrimental to the health of the area’s marine animals and birds. Whether it is a cigarette butt, soda can, piece of plastic or much larger object, trash should never be thrown in the water and you should be fully responsible for items that may leave your boat while underway. If you use the saltwater environment as your therapy you need to treat it with respect. Nothing ruins a pristine setting quite like the evidence of human interaction. No matter how insignificant you think your trash is, the water is not your garbage can and littering is completely preventable.
Unfortunately, trash that makes its way to the water isn’t just a localized problem and the effects can be felt worldwide. Even worse, man-made debris often takes decades to breakdown, so it’s a problem that will only compound unless put to an end. Perhaps the worst part of marine trash is the threat to aquatic wildlife. Whether entangled or consumed, trash can hurt wildlife in many ways. It is critical we dispose of trash in the proper manner and promote and encourage others to do the same.
While fishermen can’t be blamed for all marine debris, discarded monofilament fishing line is a direct impact of angler interaction. Monofilament line creates major problems for marine animals when ingested or entangled. To help combat this problem the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission established the Monofilament Recovery & Recycling Program. This statewide effort encourages anglers to decrease the amount of monofilament that is discarded in local waters by way of numerous drop-off bins. Whenever possible, try to recover damaged or entangled line and place it in an approved bin. From here the monofilament is shipped to Pure Fishing where it is melted and recycled for future use to create plastic line spools, tackle boxes and more. Look for FWC outdoor recycling bins at fishing piers, boat ramps and marinas throughout the state (visit mrrp.myfwc.com for a location near you).
While you can make a difference by picking up after yourself and others, you also need to be aware of your surroundings. Anchoring and operating in shallow water can cause catastrophic damage to the ecosystem. You may have had a great day on the reef only to leave a damaged habitat in your wake. Throughout your entire day on the water you need to think about your interaction with the environment and find ways to enjoy it in a respectful manner.
Back at the dock it’s critical you support designated Clean Marinas and adopt green cleaning, fueling and maintenance practices. You can make a real difference and have a serious impact in the waters we love.
Do Your Part
September 21, 2013 is International Coastal Cleanup day organized by The Ocean Conservancy. Visit oceanconservancy.org to find a cleanup near you and take part in a local effort. Every piece of trash you remove makes a difference.
Top Ten Items Found
- Cigarette Butts
- Plastic Bottles
- Plastic Bags
- Food Wrappers/Containers
- Glass Bottles
- Beverage Cans
- Paper Bags