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The marine environment is one of the most vital pillars supporting the sustainable development of the blue economy. Besides being a source of food, energy, recreation, and tourism, it is also now a transport corridor for international trade. That said, keeping the marine environment clean and tidy is not only crucial for the industry but also for the future prosperity of mankind.

Besides, as recreational boating and fishing become increasingly popular, the need for sustainable marina management practices becomes more pressing. However, marina operators and coastal managers often struggle to find ways to safeguard the environment while offering the services that boaters demand. 

Thus, implementing a few sustainable practices can help marina owners be more resilient to the effects of climate change. In that context, this blog delves into a list of top sustainable practices for marinas for 2023 and beyond.

Biggest Sustainability Challenges in the Marina Industry

The marina industry across the globe has been under fire in recent years for its majorly spiking carbon footprint, fossil-fuel consumption, and other harmful practices. Many properties were also criticized for their heavy use of plastics, their impact on local ecosystems, and their contribution to climate change that is triggered by:

  • Dredging and filling of coastal wetlands
  • Construction of large concrete structures
  • Discharge of sewage and other pollutants into the water
  • Use of toxic chemicals for boat cleaning and maintenance, etc.

Some boaters also dump non-biodegradable, unrecyclable substances such as plastic bottles, packaging, and other materials into the water, which destroys delicate ecosystems, pollutes the water and harms local wildlife. 

Besides, as marina owners also host multiple boats every day, it often leads to stirring up sand and mud and promoting algae growth in surrounding areas. Nevertheless, it’s not all doom and gloom in this case. Following the eco-friendly alternatives to these harmful practices enables marina operators to be more environmentally responsible.


Top Six Sustainable Practices for Marina Owners

  • Establish Recycling as a Norm:
    When speaking of going green, the importance of recycling habits cannot be overstated. Studies have shown that recycling habits have lessened water pollution by 76%, making it one of the most sustainable practices marinas can follow to lessen their environmental impact.

    The biggest obstacle to recycling in marinas is convenience. Keeping that in mind, every green marina focuses on encouraging its customers or visitors to adopt recycling habits from the moment of arrival. For instance, placing recycle bins everywhere in the vicinity and installing text/graphic directions for use may convince boaters to take more eco-friendly measures.

    Besides, banning single-use plastic usage and promoting greener alternatives in the marina also helps cut down on toxic waste and develop a more sustainable image, compared to other properties.
  • Adhere to IMO Regulations:
    The International Maritime Organization (IMO), the United Nations body responsible for regulating shipping and maritime affairs, has mandated several guidelines for marina operators to follow to promote sustainable practices. The primary motive behind these regulations is to lessen marine-source pollution, promote the safety of life in the oceans and reduce the carbon footprint of the marina industry.

    Some of the key sustainable practices for marinas include reducing energy consumption, minimizing waste, and using environmentally-friendly materials and products. For instance, limiting global sulfur and greenhouse gas emissions by installing EGCS (Exhaust Gas Cleaning System) on ships and promoting the usage of cleaner fuels.
  • Switch to Renewable Energy:
    The continuous overconsumption of non-renewable energy sources like fossil fuels is one of the biggest reasons behind today’s many environmental challenges. These fuels release carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide when burnt, triggering acid rain, breathing problems, etc.

    Keeping this in mind, switching to greener alternatives, such as solar or wind energy, to meet the energy needs can help operators create an eco-friendly image, cut down electricity costs, and be more environmentally responsible. Besides, as boatyards predominantly lack any dense greenery or tree coverage, they’re also the best areas to install solar panels or wind turbines.
  • Digitize Your Operations:
    Going paperless makes the list of key sustainable practices for marinas by being both incredibly time and cost-efficient, apart from its eco-friendly benefits.

    Automating your shipping, fueling, accounting, billing, and other day-to-day operations takes the excessive workload from your staff’s shoulders. Besides, it gives your office printer a break and prevents excessive paper wastage caused by rigorous printing, filing, and compilation. Read more about the benefits of Marina by going paperless here.

    Many marinas are realizing the importance and need of going digital and making the switch to leading cloud-based marina management software due to its all-inclusive features in terms of management, finance, security, and beyond. As this software can also be available on mobile, handling business becomes much easier.
  • Promote Green Shipping Practices:
    Green shipping in marinas has been a recent topic of interest in the marina owners’ community for good reasons. Implementing green shipping practices comes with a list of benefits, including reduced environmental impact and saved money on fuel costs.

    Some marinas have already started to adopt green shipping practices. If you’re interested in green shipping, here are a few things you can do to make a difference:
    – Use eco-friendly boat cleaning products
    – Use biodegradable oil absorbents
    – Implement a recycling program for boat parts and materials
    – Use low-emissions boats and engines
  • Build Environment-Friendly Ships:
    Building green eco-friendly ships is not only smart but also increasingly necessary as we encounter the challenges of climate change. Eco-friendly boating and shipbuilding are surely the need of the hour, as it helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions, conserve energy and protect the air quality at a marina. Here are some common green eco-friendly shipbuilding practices to take note of –
  • Using sustainable materials: bamboo, recyclable steel, and organic cotton are all great eco-friendly materials to choose from
  • Reduce energy consumption: use energy-efficient lighting and appliances, and insulate your ship to reduce heat loss.

Create a green infrastructure: incorporate solar panels and wind turbines into your ship’s design to generate renewable energy.


Wrapping Up

Sustainable marina practices are essential for our water bodies and the marine life that inhabits them. Marina operators have a responsibility to implement sustainable practices that minimize the impact of their operations on the environment. Take the first step towards building a green marina by implementing these practices for your business.

About DockMaster Inc.

DockMaster is an industry-leading marine management system for marinas, boatyards, and boat dealerships. Visual Marina™ management includes storage & billing, occupancy tracking, reservations, and dry stack management, including integrations to leading consumer applications for boat rentals, online reservations, concierge/launch scheduling, and our new fuel integration with FuelCloud. To request a free demo, click here.

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