We all know that sometimes elbow grease is just not enough to get a boat looking spick and span, and there are an enormous range of products on the market to help with the cleaning required. Whether you clean your boat in the water or on land, boat cleaning products may end up in local water courses and eventually the coastal and marine environment.
Products used on boat hulls and decks often contain chlorine, ammonia, potassium hydroxide and solvents, all potentially harmful to the aquatic environment. Raising awareness of the potential impacts of these products and the ‘friendly’ alternatives available is very important.
Currently there is no specific legislation in place to regulate the use of cleaning agents or paints and varnishes on recreational craft in UK coastal waters. However general provisions under the Water Resources Act 1991 regulate any polluting matter entering controlled waters and this legislation applies to all marine businesses.
Soaps, detergents and bleaches should be used with caution and sparingly ensuring that only small residues enter the water. This is also applicable to the cleaning agents used in galleys and sea-toilets, which will drain or flush into the water. Most standard detergents contain phosphates which, when released in water, act as a fertiliser and can cause algal blooms leading to oxygen depletion which in severe cases can suffocate aquatic life. Products used on boat hulls and decks can also contain chlorine, ammonia, potassium hydroxide and solvents as well as other chemicals that can all affect the way wildlife feeds, breathes and breeds.
However, there are now an increasing number of ‘environmentally-friendly’ cleaning products on the market and these should be used wherever available. The Green Blue has a wide range of practical advice which is easy to put into practice and can be found on the website. To find out more about specific ‘environmentally friendly’ products you can visit the Green Directory where you will find information on a wide range of products which will help you reduce your impact on the environment.