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10. Clean Marina Initiatives

Many nations and states have clean marina initiatives.

In the U.S. NOAA coordinates a national clean marina initiative described below.

What is the Clean Marina Initiative?

The Clean Marina Initiative is a voluntary, incentive-based program promoted by NOAA and others that encourages marina operators and recreational boaters to protect coastal water quality by engaging in environmentally sound operating and maintenance procedures. While Clean Marina Programs vary from state to state, all programs offer information, guidance, and technical assistance to marina operators, local governments, and recreational boaters on Best Management Practices (BMPs) that can be used to prevent or reduce pollution. Marinas that participate in the Clean Marina Program are recognized for their environmental stewardship.

Why is the Clean Marina Initiative Important?

Marinas and recreational boating are increasingly popular uses of coastal areas. The U.S. Coast Guard reported reported more than 17 million registered recreational boats in 2004. Because marinas are located right along the water's edge, pollutants created by marina activities are released directly into the water. Although not one of the leading sources of polluted runoff, pollution from marinas can have a significant impact on local water quality. Therefore, is it important to promote operation and maintenance practices that will prevent pollution from entering coastal waterways.



Benefits for Marinas Operators and Owners

  • Reduce waste disposal costs. The Best Management Practices (BMPs) will reduce the amount of wastes produced so disposal costs will be less.
  • Generate new sources of revenue. Studies have shown that Clean Marinas can charge slightly higher slip fees and have fewer vacancies.
  • Receive free technical assistance. Best Management Practices guidebooks, training workshops and on-site visits are available to marina operators. Often states will even offer on-site assistance for meeting regulatory requirements.
  • Reduce legal liabilities. By participating in the Clean Marina Program, marinas can ensure they are meeting all regulatory requirements, thus avoiding fines.
  • Enjoy free publicity. States recognize Clean Marinas through press releases, newsletters, and boating guides, etc.
  • Attract knowledgeable customers. Clean Marinas are aesthetically pleasing facilities that can attract responsible clientele that will follow good boating practices.
  • Improve water quality and habitat for living resources. The marina and boating industry depends on clean waters and a healthy coastal environment for their continued success.
  • Demonstrate marina is a good steward of the environment. Many states distribute special burgees and signs for Clean Marinas to display. Clean Marinas are also allowed to use the State's Clean Marina logo on all letterhead.

Benefits for State Coastal Managers and Others
Interested in Starting Clean Marina Programs

  • Educate boaters. The Clean Marina Program is an excellent way to reach out to recreational boaters and demonstrate how they can alter their own practices to minimize impacts on the marine environment.
  • Satisfy the requirements of the State Coastal Nonpoint Control Program. By developing a Clean Marina Program, a state will demonstrate a commitment to implement the marina management measures required by the joint NOAA/EPA program.
  • Improve Coordination. By joining in the Clean Marina Initiative, states and their partners will be able to join the growing network of Clean Marina Programs nationwide.


Each marina establishes its own programs to achieve the objectives of the clean marina initiative.

Walt Disney World® provide a model for the tourist industry through its eleven marinas. Some of the steps it has taken include but are not limited to:

  • Having a state certified water quality testing unit on Disney property for all 11 Walt Disney World marinas. Testing is monthly and quarterly.
  • Holding annual volunteer cleanup along with paid divers to do underwater cleanup.
  • Checking boat engines every 100 hours for efficiency. Disney has switched from 2 cycle to 4 cycle engines in all its boats for less pollution.
  • Painting engines and steering wheels black to avoid using toxic materials for cleanup.  Disney has also switched to non toxic cleaning supplies.
  • Installing fuel barges with clean tool kits to reduce pollution.
  • Development of successful fish management program with all fishing “catch and release”. This has resulted in 10 times the catch rate of other Florida lakes.
  • Disney has an ongoing ecosystem restoration program including the use of artificial reefs in some areas to enhance habitat.
  • Disney has an ongoing program to remove invasive species including an inspection program for all private boats entering the waters.


Walt Disney World® Caribbean Beach Resort Marina


Association of Marina Industries Clean Marina Program

Download a copy of AMI's Clean Marina best management practices manual

Clean Marina is a voluntary compliance program that stresses environmental and managerial best management practices that exceed regulatory requirements.  A facility must meet all legal regulatory requirements and a percentage of voluntary best management practices to become a certified Clean Marina.  A typical Clean Marina program will have components that cover marina sighting and design considerations, marina management, emergency planning, petroleum control, sewage and gray water, waste containment and disposal, storm water management, habitat and species protection and boater education.

The Clean Marina Program is valuable because it is an effective tool in maintaining and promoting environmental responsibility; with the end result being cleaner water.  The voluntary, non-regulatory nature of the program encourages participation and cooperation between marinas, the boating public and the regulatory agencies.  Without the Clean Marina Program, states would be forced to further regulate the marinas, which would cost money and time in an already stressed economy.

The program is valuable to marina operators because it can help reduce waste disposal costs, generate new sources of revenue, and attract responsible customers that will respect and follow good boating practices.

AMI supports the clean marina programs across the US and encourages all marinas to actively pursue a clean marina designation. If your state does not have a Clean Marina program, please contact our office for guidance.

Clean Marina Programs in the U.S.

State / Organization Link to Program
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
New Jersey
New York
North Carolina
South Carolina
Tennessee Valley Authority

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