The Impact of Recreational Boating On Marine Life


Recreational boating has had a severe impact on marine life. A recent report conducted in the European Union found that waste water has caused a negative impact on marine wildlife. The pressure of human activity is on the rise, with 90% if the biosphere under pressure from human activity.

And the third source of pollution is marine transport.

Transport was not defined, but it is speculated that machines powered by humans would not have the same level of impact on marine life as would a cruise ship. A person that is rowing, for example, would not cause the water to be polluted unless other factors were in play at the time.

A finding from a European team of consultants found that the seven main impacts on marine life are:

  • Engines: Specifically, the hydrocarbon released by the engines of boats and fishing vessels have a major impact on marine life. But it is noted that marine transport vehicles emit just 2% of all hydrocarbon released from land-based activities.
  • Bilge and Oily Water: Water that is oily or bilge has an impact on marine life. This is often oil released into the environment from unburnt fuel. This impact is small, but it can be noted by an oily film or water found near parked boats.
  • Sewage and Grey Water: Sewage and grey water, or water from washing, enters the sea causing chemicals and fats to enter the ocean. Biodegradable products would be able to halt the damage done by grey water.
  • Physical Damage: The physical damage caused by anchoring might be harmful to the seabed. This is a hard variable to assess, as each government is responsible for the proper infrastructure needed for anchoring.
  • Water Treatment: Some of the chemicals and water from the water treatment process can have a negative impact on the marine environment.
  • Noise: The noise caused by older engines found on boats led to a new level of noise emission requirements in 2006. The noise has been seen as a disturbance to humans and marine life alike.
  • Depletion: The level of fish in the water is rapidly declining, and this is due to illegal fishing for the most part. Recreational fishing doesn’t have a major impact on fish stocks, but commercial fishing, especially in protected areas, is a major issue.
  • Antifouling Paints: Paints that are used to stop the development of marine organisms on the surface off a hull may be harmful to the marine environment the study found.

The studies point to human activity in the water needing to be regulated at the highest level. Virtually all activity seems to have some form of an impact on the marine environment, but with proper laws in place, the damage done will be kept to a minimum.

Even land-based activities, such as using your water rower machine at home, may have an impact on marine life. This would be a result of how the machine is manufactured and if the machine needs electricity to operate.

Awareness was cited as one of the most important factors to reducing the impact of human activity on marine life. The EU was alerted of the findings so that the proper regulations and protocols can be followed to lessen human disturbance on marine life.


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