Clean Boating in the Florida Keys

Information on environmentally friendly boating in the Keys.

Fuel & Oil

  • Avoid spillage of fuel into water when filling tank
  • Use a vent collection device to capture escaping fuel
  • Attend to fuel nozzle at all times when fueling tank
  • If tank is overfilled, wipe it up with a rag, rather than hosing down into the water - give rag to marina operator for proper disposal
  • Do not use detergents or soaps if spill occurs
  • Notify marina of spill
  • Use drip pans with absorbent pads when draining oil from bilges
  • Keep engines well-tuned and check seals and gaskets for leaks and drips
  • Place oil absorbent material or bioremediating bilge boom in the bilge
  • Clean and maintain bilges; do not use detergent while cleaning
  • Before pumping bilge, use water/oil separators to soak up oil hydrocarbons
  • Trailer your boat in an area that provides containment before removing bilge or boat plugs
  • Recycle or properly dispose of used oil and absorbents


Boat Cleaning

  • Remove boat from water (if possible) and clean where debris can be properly disposed
  • Use fresh water to clean your boat after every use
  • Use environmentally-friendly products to clean your boat
  • Look for biodegradable spray-type cleaners that do not require rinsing
  • Use dry slips to reduce the need for cleaning in the water


Impacts on Plants/Sea Life

  • Avoid chopping vegetation with outboard motor propellers
  • Running into grass beds - stop and tilt your engines, then use a pole to walk your boat out of the area
  • Use charts for locations of sensitive areas
  • Grass beds may appear as dark areas under the water, so read the water
  • Obey posted signs
  • Wear polarized sunglasses to reduce glare on water surface
  • Dispose of monofilament line, hooks, and other debris properly back on land


Solid Waste

  • Stow loose items so they do not blow overboard
  • Carry trash bags - do not throw garbage overboard
  • Whatever you take out, bring it back


Hazardous Wastes

  • Place paint waste or old gasoline in closed containers so it does not escape into the air or create a fire hazard
  • Used oil should be placed in a closed container and recycled
  • Trade in used batteries or dispose of properly
  • Use paints that are not solvent based
  • Use bilge switches that do not contain mercury
  • Check with your marina on proper disposal of paint waste, mercury containing bilge pump switches, old flares, used oil, or old gasoline.  Or, you can contact your local solid waste provider.


Fish Waste

  • Dispose of unwanted bait offshore
  • Eviscerate (gut) fish and dispose of contents at sea (do not fillet if species is required to be landed whole)
  • Use fish cleaning stations with trash receptacles and wastewater hookups


Sewage Waste

  • Use marinas with proper facilities
  • Small boats should use portable toilets
  • Dispose of pet waste properly
  • Encourage marinas to use pump out services
  • Maintain your marine sanitation devices
  • Wash hands with soap and water after using pump out equipment


Gray Water

  • Limit the amount of water used in sinks and showers
  • Use low or non-phosphate soaps
  • Use upland laundry facilities and showers when possible

The above material was adapted from "Clean Boating Habits, Clean Boater" by the Department of Environmental Protection, Clean Marina Program.