One of our communication objectives is to keep you informed on important environmental issues. You are welcome to comment or contribute by contacting our environment officer at

  1. Know the Marine Mammal Rules!
  2. Grey Water
  5. Environmental Boating. Your boat, your ocean…keeping them clean.


Know the Marine Mammal Rules!

The following is taken from a news bulletin issued by Peter Hamilton, Executive Director of Life force, a non-profit ecology organization.

All Canadians and Americans preparing their boats for the new boating season should also be up to date on U.S. marine mammal protection regulations and other new rules.


Both the U.S. and Canadian governments have designated orcas as endangered species and have implemented orca recovery plans.

Orcas, also known as killer whales, are the largest members of the dolphin family. All family members live together for their entire lives in “pods.” The Southern Resident Killer Whales (SRKW) is the J, K and L pods. While Js spend most of their lives in B.C. and Washington waters the Ks and Ls usually return in June and will stay until the winter. J pod has been traveling through local waters off Point Roberts. There are less than 90 orcas in total.

Governor Christine Gregoire signed into law on March 28, 2008 legislation that further bolsters efforts to protect resident orcas. The new law establishes a 300-foot zone around orca whales that vessels must avoid. The law provides the department of fish and wildlife with enforcement tools. Blocking the pathways is strictly prohibited.

A new San Juan Island ordinance regulates the operation of vessels in proximity to SRKWs and established fines of $750 for violations such as failing to yield to orcas in San Juan County waters.


It is illegal to pickup, touch or feed any wildlife. This includes both live and dead seals.

Moms will drop off their babies on shore and go off to feed. They are often mistaken as injured or abandoned. Unless the pup is obviously injured and/or entangled with nets the pup must be monitored for 24 to 48 hours.

People and animals must be kept away from the pup because the mom considers them a threat and will not come back to feed her baby. If a human touches the pup it will not stop the mom from reuniting with her baby if the pup is left alone.

For orcas, seals and other marine wildlife the penalties and fines are strictly enforced in the U.S. Under the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act penalties include a civil penalty of up to $10,000 for each offense or criminal prosecution with a fine of up to $20,000 or imprisonment for up to one year, or both.

Lifeforce Marine Life Programs

1. Whale and Dolphin Hotline. Lifeforce provides a telephone hotline for the public to be able to report marine wildlife stranding, harassment and/or sightings.

2. Orca Research. Lifeforce is presently in the final development stages of employing sound technology to attract orcas away from harm in the event of oil spills and other environmental hazards.

3. Orca Trails. This land-based whale watch program alerts park managers and the public when orcas and other cetaceans will pass their marine parks.

4. Lifewatch Boater Awareness Program. Lifeforce distributes whale watch guidelines and orca field guides to boaters on the water and to the general public.

5. Marine Wildlife Rescue. Lifeforce provides a 24-hour service to respond to marine wildlife injury, sickness, abandonment, stranding and other emergencies.

6. Marine Educational Materials and Displays. Lifeforce publishes educational materials and we also create educational displays for the orca center in Point Roberts.

7. Orca Recovery Plans. Over the years Lifeforce has contributed to the development of orca recovery plans and to improve marine mammal protection regulations. Whale watch businesses and research operations must be change. This would include giving orcas a day off from the continuous harassment of boats from sunrise to sunset.

8. Orca Awareness Month - June 2008. Some orca populations are transboundary species sharing both Canadian and US waters. In recognition for the need to protect these endangered species Lifeforce will participate in joint BC and Washington activities.

If anyone is concerned about orcas, seals or any wildlife call Lifeforce and we will investigate, monitor and contact appropriate agencies. The phone number is 604/649-5258.

The enforcement agencies are: In U.S. – National Marine Fisheries Service – 800/853-1964; In Canada – Department of Fisheries and Oceans – 800/465-4336


Grey Water

Discussions are now taking place regarding grey water under the Canada Shipping Act Regulations for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships and for Dangerous Chemicals.

According to the report, grey water includes drainage from dishwasher, shower, laundry, bath and washbasin drains. Grey water is not considered to be garbage or sewage and at this time is not covered by the Regulations as long as it does not contain a pollutant prescribed in the Regulations.

While generally posing less harm, according to some sources, grey water can on occasion contain some harmful constituents, such as detergent residues and chlorine from bleach in laundry discharges.

We encourage you to read the Canadian Marine Advisory Council Discussion Paper. Keep in mind this is only a discussion process relating to large vessels and yet to be gazetted for the general public.

Meanwhile, you can do your part by being aware that “environment-friendly” or “green” detergent is still detergent, and if it contains any level of phosphate, it will pollute. Look for the phosphate-free, biodegradable type. Some replacement chemicals can be worse than the phosphates, so it’s necessary to become a “product detective”. Ask questions, do comparisons, and check with suppliers or the Ministry of Environment.



The much discussed new sewage regulations which fall under the Canada Shipping Act are now in place.

For vessels built prior to May 2007 the regulations come into effect May 2012. They require that black water sewage be treated or contained and then pumped out at an appropriate station. If no pump out is available discharge over board is permissible at a specific distance from shore while under way.

Meanwhile you could start asking your marina management or yacht club executive what they are planning around the new laws.




One of our members recently sent me an email asking if there are any environment laws requiring outboard engines to be four stroke.

There are presently no manufacturing laws in place that restrict the marketing of two stroke OB engines. You can still buy two strokes which are lighter than four stokes and have more power. They also have been greatly improved with regard to noise and pollution emissions.

It’s a good question however, as there is some confusion and misinformation around this issue.

What we all can do is make sure we keep our engines well tuned with at least and annual checkup whether it’s a two or four stroke. If you want to save money by doing it yourself rather than a mechanic, think about taking the Squadron Marine Mantinence course.

To further put your mind at ease the following comments came from Len Burton, Marine Maintenance Instructor….

“The two stroke question came up in our Marine Maintenance Course this ear so I ran it past a good friend of mine, Superintendent Engineer of CCG PAC. He is very big on environmental issues. I took the class through his facilities during which he answered questions.

The 07 model two stroke is more environmentally friendly than the 2007 four stroke. They run cleaner at all speeds. They are more environmentally friendly and can be run at extended periods of time flat out. This is a requirement on the fast response zodiacs with the twin 225's on the back. You can't do that with a four stroke.

Everything taken into account, two or four stroke, diligent maintenance is the key. As far as I know the two strokes are not on the way out until they wear out.”


Environmental Boating. Your boat, your ocean…keeping them clean.

In this section we are going to discuss one in a series of topics on smart environmental practices for the West Coast.

Most boaters are already environmentally conscious, because many aspects of boating like fair winds, sunshine, sparkling clean water, and fresh seafood, seems to go hand in hand. However, if you are a boater who would like to increase or update your awareness about impacting the environment, read on.

An overview

Water, the element boaters need most for enjoyment and survival has been here since the beginning of time. We may be new to the Blue Box, but Mother Nature has been at this recycling business for a long, long time.

Pollution is a fact of life. Unfortunately it is now a visible fact in many waterways where people go boating. We know for example that phosphorus, a major ingredient in detergent and cleaners, is a major contributor to pollution.

We hope these tips provided here and in future columns will provide some additional knowledge. Together we can start trending in direction that will help keep our waters healthy for us and future generations.


Boat cleaning is a challenge, because cleaning any boat—even a small one—can dirty a lot of water. With all the benefits clean water brings to us, here are a few tips to meet the “boat-cleaning challenge”.

• Water and grime will cascade or “bead” off a well-waxed car. This know-how can be used in a clean boat/clean water plan. Before launch, give the boat a thorough cleaning on land, in an area where the run-off won’t enter the waterway. Chose a boat yard that practices safe collection of pollutant run off. A proper cleaning will remove the dirt and some of the chalking caused by fall out and oxidization.

If heavily oxidized, cutting waxes/cleaners may have to be used followed by one or two coats of boat wax that will capture that “just-right” look.

The benefit is that when it becomes necessary to clean the boat during the season it washes a lot easier. The wax will prevent surface dirt from becoming engrained and help slow down oxidization.

• Avoid harsh cleaners, soaps or detergents. They can destroy protective wax coatings that you worked so hard to apply. More importantly, they will needlessly damage the environment, and reduce water quality. Use any cleaner sparingly. More is not necessarily better. Some cleaners take time to loosen dirt and stains, so allow them to sit for a few minutes before adding more.

• Consider a portable power washer for areas that seem to get the dirtiest. It works well on non-skid areas and is environment friendly.

• Remember, “environment-friendly” or “green” detergent is still detergent, and if it contains any level of phosphate, it will pollute. Look for the phosphate-free, biodegradable type. Some replacement chemicals can be worse than the phosphates, so it’s necessary to become a “product detective”. Ask questions, do comparisons, and check with suppliers or the Ministry of Environment.

Keep the boat clean, by all means, but not at the expense of waterways. By adopting a Wax n’ Wash Clean Boat Routine, all boaters will be on their way to becoming environment smart.

Here is a chart you can print or cut out. Paste it in the inside cover of your logbook or anyplace where you can make reference to it.

These do-it-yourself cleaners listed here are made from basic, readily available, household staples.

Environmentally Friendly Alternative Cleaning Products

© Copyright. Sources for this information were adapted from the CPS “The Enviro Boaters Guide” and The Georgia Strait Alliance booklet “Guide to Green Boating” with their knowledge. This copy is not to be reproduced or changed without the permission of the SPPSS.