Ready to get that boat in the water for the season? We hear you! It’s that time of year. Whether your boat is a small sailboat, skiff, pontoon or large fishing vessel, use responsible practices while out on the water.

There are simple tips that are just common courtesy. Don’t toss trash overboard, for example. Or watch your wake when boating near the shore, as it can wash away early sea life that grows there.

But there are other aspects to responsible boating. For example, federal law prohibits any amount of fuel, oil or other petroleum product being discharged into the water, accidental or not. It is also against the law to use detergents, soaps or any chemical to disperse the spill. Those products just cause the petroleum to sink, creating even more environmental damage.

It’s not fun to talk about sewage management, but it is a part of boating. Bacteria can close waters to fishing and swimming. Excess nutrients cause algal blooms. Don’t dispose of it in a no-discharge zone, and be sure your facility has proper on-board treatment if you do discharge of it beyond three miles from shore. Better to use a pump-out station. Basically, keep all untreated sewage out of coastal and inland waterways.

Before you launch that boat, learn more with a free clean-boating course. Then, by all means, go out and enjoy time on the water!