Keep Hawaii’s waters blue
As a recreational boater, have you become a part of the solution to ocean pollution?
In recent months, the University of Hawaii's Sea Grant Program, in cooperation with the state's Department of Land and Natural Resources, has been making a concerted effort to elevate the awareness of all boaters of their responsibilities to our shared ocean environment.
Through a combination of public service announcements on television and radio, the messages have been short and to the point: please use your marine sanitation devices (on-board toilets or "heads") and empty them at the nearest pump-out stations.
There can be no argument that every boater should heed this advice. After all, there are few places in the world that can offer such an idyllic setting for ocean users and to spoil it is unquestionably a crime, both metaphorically and legally.
Just picture the scene at Waikiki Beach. On any day of the year, children frolic at the ocean's edge, and not far away; surfers gracefully slide across the face of crystal blue waves.
Beyond the surfers, canoe and kayak paddlers are often seen cutting through the sparkling wave crests, and hidden below there are scuba divers exploring the colorful coral reefs.
Fishermen are a part of the panorama as well, whether throwing nets, tossing spears, casting lures, or trolling offshore for their catch of the day.
Adding to this rich mix of ocean users, scores of sailors are likely to be seen racing the winds of paradise as they tack across miles of pristine sea.
Polluting this incomparable environment would seem to be the last thing any rational person would do, and yet daily, the threat is real.
And, unquestionably, of all the possible sources for pollution, any that comes from recreational boaters is surely one of the least comprehensible.
Even birds know not to foul their own nests.
So as a reminder, the Sea Grant Program and the DLNR are emphasizing to boaters that discharging marine toilets or holding tanks within three miles of shore is not only a health hazard and a violation of federal law, but is also an offense to all ocean users, including themselves.
A far better alternative is to learn the location of the nearest, or most convenient pump-out station and then to make using it a part of normal boat maintenance, like changing the oil, refueling or emptying the on-board trash.
Boaters can also pick up a copy of "Managing Boat Wastes, A Guide for Hawaii Boaters" from any state Harbor Master's office and report any sightings of boats violating our pollution laws to the Coast Guard on VHF Channel 16.
Once all recreational boaters begin to take these few simple steps, they can be sure they are a part of the solution to ocean pollution.