Nothing can spoil a day of boating like attempting to cruise over polluted, murky waters. But Ontario’s marina operators are paving the way for cleaner waters by joining the Clean Marine Program.
According to their website, www.boatingontario.ca/industry/CleanMarine.aspx, “The Ontario Marine Operators Association (OMOA) along with over twenty marine industry professionals and Ontario’s boaters’ and anglers’ associations formed the Clean Marine Partnership to develop a voluntary program of "Environmental Best Practices" for the marine industry.” OMOA member marinas have been enrolling in the Clean Marine Program to ensure that their marinas are following very specific environmentally sound practices in hopes of keeping our waters clean.
“Everybody can do a little bit better environmentally,” says Bob Eaton director of Environmental Services for the OMOA. “I think our industry needs to do that. I think this is an old family kind of business with old habits.”
Eaton says the program has received a great response. “We have almost 300 members.” He says. “It’s a good thing. Boaters like it and it saves money on the cost of waste disposal, water and energy.”
In order to join the Clean Marine Program simply contact the OMOA and for $25 you will receive a handbook. This manual, developed through the cooperation of the OMOA, Environment Canada and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment sets out more than 200 environmental practices that cover all aspects of marine operations from fueling to waste oil and paper recycling. “It has everything in it to do the program,” says Eaton. “That’s where you start. There are a lot of “how do you…” questions. It is essentially a self evaluation of your current practices. But it also tells you what to do to improve.”
“The Eco-rating is what we’re trying to get everyone to do,” says Eaton. As the next step, “We tell Terra Choice Environmental Services to come into your facility and they have a 300 point questionnaire they go through.” Once that’s done the evaluation is tallied and you receive a score. The Eco-rating ranges from one to five green leaf anchors. “If you get a 5 you brag about it a lot,” says Eaton. “You also get a certificate with your rating.”
If you didn’t receive a five, they will tell you were to make improvements.
“It’s a rotary program,” says Eaton. ”If you got your rating today, for the next two years you do your own evaluation and on the third you are visited again.”
“We started the program in 2000 and there were no 5 anchors and now there are 13. It is a result of progress and self evaluation. Everyone has jumped up. It is obvious they are striving to improve,” says Eaton.
If you need more incentive than helping the environment, another good reason to join the program is to increase business. “We produce over 100 marina directories and destination guides that highlight marinas that identify to the boaters which are clean marinas. It essentially draws in more business,” says Eaton.
Also, boaters who join the Clean Marine Program will be eligible to receive a 10% discount on their insurance premiums while protecting Canada's waterways. This Clean Boater Group Insurance Program is distributed exclusively by ELCO Insurance Group Inc. “You are considered a lower risk because of the work they have done for the environment,” he says.
So remember, whether you take to the water by power, sail or paddle, we must all do our part to ensure that we have clean waters and a healthy environment. Why not take the first step and join the Clean Marine Program?