SARASOTA, Fla. - Florida has nearly one million registered motorized vessels that use our water ways for fun and recreation in addition to several million visitors each year. With so many boaters in the state, helping to protect our clear waters and world class beaches is an important goal of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
“It is critical for both drinking and pleasure for our environment,” said Terry Cerullo, Environmental Administrator with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. “We have over a $67 billion tourist industry in the state of Florida and of course our beaches and our waterways are critical.”
Florida has over 2,000 marinas, more than any other state. To help encourage marinas to be good stewards of the environment, the DEP has a voluntary Clean Marina Program to recognize marinas that go above and beyond to help protect our environment.
“What is really important about the Clean Marina Program, it really helps the environment here in Florida because these marinas and boat yards and retailers who are good stewards to the community trying to help get the water right.”
To date, 283 marinas have been recognized by the Clean Marina program. MarineMax, next to Mote Marine Laboratory has taken the steps to become a designated Clean Marina.
“When you take a look at what we have to offer here our water is either crystal blue, its green, it's gorgeous and we have to maintain a clean marina just to keep every spec. We want people to keep visiting, we want people to live here and that is really, really important to us for the environment as well,” said MarineMax general manager Jason LeFevre.
To earn the Clean Marina designation, marinas have to address issues like emergency preparedness, spill prevention, storm water control and waste management.
“We have to have the proper disposal features so that we can get rid of oil if necessary, so we can get rid of hydraulic fluid if necessary and we can get rid of any gasoline. Everything there has to be contained properly so it can be disposed of properly,” said LeFevre.
The Longboat Key Club Moorings has been a designated Clean Marina for the last 12 years.
“We are honored to be recognized as a Florida Clean Marina, for the 12th consecutive year. This truly reflects our commitment to quality and excellence through the judicial business practices we have put in place for over a decade now. We take stewardship of our island resources very seriously and maintaining the integrity of our unique wildlife areas and keeping our waterways beautiful and healthy is of the utmost importance,” said Dennis Matthews, Director of Marina Operations for Longboat Key Club Moorings in an email to ABC7.
The DEP also encourages individual boaters to implement practices to prevent pollution with boating activities such as fueling, cleaning and maintenance.