Stash Your Trash
Anyone who has been to the beach knows that there is a lot of garbage floating around in our coastal waters and ending up on shore. Most of this garbage makes its way down to the water's edge through street gutters and storm drains that flow directly into local creeks. However, a small percentage may still be originating from vessels.
Why Should I Care
Garbage in the water looks bad, and can cause problems for both wildlife and for boaters. A significant number of boaters have had cool-water intake valves clogged by plastic bags, causing engine overheating and expensive repairs. Others have had monofilament fishing line wrapped around their propeller, and others have seen enough trash in the water to be able to use it to follow the direction of the current flows!
Under U.S. law, it is illegal to put any garbage into the water from a vessel that is on a lake, river, stream, or any coastal waters up to 3 miles offshore. In the Great Lakes, this no garbage law applies everywhere.
As you venture further offshore, the law loosens a bit. The biggest thing to remember is that no matter where you are NO plastic garbage should ever go into the water.
If your vessel is 40’ and longer, you are required to have a “MARPOL” placard as well as a written waste management plan. These plans simply identify procedures for collecting, processing, storing and discharging the vessel’s garbage in accordance with the law. You also need to identify who is going to carry out the plan. It is a good idea to educate each passenger and crew about how to handle garbage in accordance with the plan. Please note these plans need to be stored on board. A good place to put them is with the vessels official papers. Click here to see a couple of examples of waste management plans.
Under the same law, marinas are required to have adequate trash receiving capability for their normal customers. (The Marine Plastic Pollution Research and Control Act of 1997 is Title II of Public Law 100-200.)
What Can I Do?
- Reduce the amount of packaging and plastic you take aboard.
- Establish a policy on your boat that nothing goes overboard - even apple cores and cigarette butts. Alert all guests and crew to this policy.
- Make sure your garbage can is easily accessible on the boat, and on open boats, make sure it has a lid to keep light plastics from catching wind and flying away.
- Obey the law- always keep garbage on the boat for onshore disposal. Better yet, recycle cans, plastic and other items.
- Post our bilingual "Stash Your Trash" poster at a waterfront business or boat facility. Distribute our brochure about the law to your local boating group.
- Download a copy of the "Stash Your Trash" brochure »