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Clean Boating

Find an overview of how the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) helps boaters keep coastal waters clean.

With minimal effort and expense, boaters can help keep coastal waters clean and healthy—a key ingredient for great boating. Similar to car use, boat use and maintenance can negatively impact the environment. Fuel spills, oil leaks, detergents, and boat sewage discharges all can pollute the water. And without simple precautions, like obeying no wake speed limits, boating in sensitive and shallow areas can harm delicate habitats.

Index and Links

To support clean boating, CZM provides the following information for boaters on protecting the marine environment.

  • Boat Pumpout Facilities - Pumpouts facilities provide a convenient way to properly dispose of boat sewage and CZM maintains an interactive map of the more than 120 boat pumpouts along the Massachusetts coast.
  • Bilge Socks - Accidental spills and poor engine maintenance may cause oil and fuel to pollute coastal waters when the bilge is pumped. Learn about how bilge socks can absorb oil and fuel from bilge water and keep coastal waters clean.
  • Boater Fact Sheets (PDF, 99KB) - Produced as part of CZM’s Massachusetts Clean Marina Guide, these PDF fact sheets provide solutions for many of the environmental impacts caused by boaters, including: boat operation and fueling; disposal of trash, garbage, and hazardous waste; wastewater; boat maintenance; and non-toxic cleaning alternatives.
  • Clean Boating in the Commonwealth - This article on page 52 of the 2007 edition of CZM’s Coastlines magazine (PDF, 39 MB) discusses the environmental impacts of boating, provides tips on how to minimize those impacts, and gives links to additional information.
  • CZ-Tip: Boating Basics/No Discharge of Boat Sewage - This tip from CZM gives specific guidelines for the proper handling of vessel sewage in Massachusetts, along with links to additional information.
  • CZ-Tip: Simple Steps to Clean Boating in Massachusetts - Also a CZM tip on boating, this page gives specific steps for handling fuel and oil, sewage and graywater, boat cleaning and maintenance, boating in sensitive areas, and marine debris, along with links to additional information.
  • CZ-Tip: Boat Winterizing—Keep It Green - This tip discusses how to properly prepare boats for winter storage in an environmentally sensitive manner.

Other CZM efforts related to clean boating include:

  • No Discharge Zones (NDZs) - NDZs are designated bodies of water where the discharge of all boat sewage, whether treated or not, is prohibited. All of Massachusetts waters are designated as “no discharge” for vessel sewage. CZM works with coastal communities to supports efforts to increase boat pumpout facilities to make proper sewage disposal more convenient for boaters.
  • Marina Management - CZM provides technical assistance and support to marinas to reduce coastal water pollution from pressure washing of boats, hull repair, engine maintenance, fueling, and other services marinas offer to the boating public.