Marine Pollution

Chris Riley by Chris Riley Updated on August 23, 2019. In nauticalknowhow

Marine Pollution – Additional Information


Plastic includes, but is not limited to; plastic bags, styrofoam cups and lids, six pack holders, stirrers, straws, milk jugs, egg cartons, synthetic nets, ropes, lines and bio or photo-degradable plastics.

Garbage means paper, rags, glass, metal, crockery (generated in living spaces aboard the vessel — what we normally call trash), and all kinds of food, maintenance and cargo-associated waste. Garbage, as used here, does not include fresh fish or fish parts, dishwater, or gray water.

Dunnage is material used to block and brace cargo and is considered a cargo-associated waste.

Dishwater means the liquid residue from the manual or automatic washing of dishes and cooking utensils which have been pre-cleaned to the extent that any food particles adhering to them would not normally interfere with the operation of automatic dishwashers.

Graywater means drainage from a dishwasher, shower, laundry, bath, and washbasin and does not include drainage from toilets, urinals, hospitals, and cargo spaces.

Waste Management Plans

The Waste Management Plan must be in writing and describe procedures for collecting, processing, storing and properly disposing of garbage in a way that will not violate the requirement. It must also designate the person who is in charge of carrying out the plan.

Boaters who have specific questions about the form or content of a Waste Management Plan should contact the nearest Coast Guard Captain of the Port.

Marina Obligations

Recreational boating facilities (such as marinas, yacht clubs and attended launching ramps), capable of providing wharfage or other services for 10 or more recreational vessels, must also provide adequate garbage reception facilities for any vessel that routinely calls. Vessels must be conducting business with the facility to qualify for the service. Marinas would not be expected to provide services to a vessel whose sole reason for docking was to offload its garbage. Also, marinas and terminals can charge vessel operators reasonable fees for providing the service. Boat operators should request that their marinas have adequate dumpsters, and oil and antifreeze recycling bins. Boaters should return to the dock all materials they take out in their boats.

MSD Basic Requirements

Vessels 65 feet in length and under may install a Type I, II, or III Marine Sanitation Device. Vessels over 65 feet in length must install a Type II or III MSD.

TYPE I This device is certified to treat the sewage with disinfectant chemicals, and by other means, before it is discharged into the water. The treated discharge must meet certain health standards for bacteria content and must not show any visible floating solids.

TYPE II This MSD is also a treatment device, but it is certified to provide a higher level of sewage treatment. Because it is larger in size than a Type I, and generally has higher power requirements, it is usually installed only in larger recreational boats.

TYPE III This MSD does not allow the discharge of sewage. Type III category devices include recirculating and incinerating MSDs and holding tanks. Holding tanks are probably the most common kind of Type III MSD used on recreational boats. Sewage is stored in the holding tank until it can be pumped out to a reception facility on shore, or at sea beyond the territorial waters of the United States.

Reception Facilities

Reception facilities (sometimes called pumpout stations) are not required by Coast Guard regulations. Their availability at marinas or other locations is largely a function of local boater demand. Most cruising guides and boating almanacs list the availability of pumpout stations. However, because of the growing number of No Discharge Zones (see below) and the increasing number of boaters, the Federal Government and the States are encouraging, and assisting with funding, the installation of more pumpout stations along U.S. waterways. They are also turning their attention to a requirement for standardized MSD pumpout fittings that will make it possible for all vessels to easily use any pumpout station.

For the future — The Clean Vessel Act of 1992 (Public Law 102587, Subtitle F) recommends the following: “For all vessels manufactured after December 31, 1994, a standard deck fitting for removal of sewage should be constructed to the “International standard ISO 4567 Shipbuilding – Yachts – Waste water fittings” for holding tanks, which is a female 38.1 mm (one and one half inches) pipe size with 11 threads per 25.4 mm (inch). These threads could utilize a quick-connect, or cam lock fitting. For existing vessels, an adapter, such as a tapered cone, should be used for non-standard deck fittings. All pumpout connectors should fit the standard deck fitting. For vessels manufactured after December 31, 1994, it has been recommended that, because of possible confusion between waste, fuel and water deck fittings, the deck fittings should be identified with the words ‘WASTE’, ‘GAS’, ‘DIESEL’, and ‘WATER’, and color coded. Fittings should be provided with black caps for waste, red caps for gas and diesel, and blue caps for water.”

In the meantime, because there are a variety of fitting sizes at various marinas, boaters should acquaint themselves with what, if any, fitting adapter they should have to enable discharge at any pumpout location.

Certification Labels

Every manufacturer of Coast Guard certified treatment MSDs must affix a certification label on the MSD. The label will show the name of the manufacturer, the name and model number of the device, the month and year of manufacturer, the MSD type (i.e. Type I, Type I, or Type III), a certification number, and a certification statement. This is proof that the device has been tested to meet the U.S. Coast Guard regulations for design and construction, and the Environmental Protection Agency regulations and standards as required by the Clean Water Act.

Holding tanks (Type III MSDs) will not be labeled. They will be considered Coast Guard certified if they are used to store sewage and flushwater only and they operate at ambient (outside) air temperature and pressure. A holding tank must have enough reserve capacity to retain the wastes generated while the vessel is operating in waters where the discharge of raw sewage is prohibited. Isolating the overboard discharge piping from the head with a valve is not considered equivalent to providing a holding tank.

Special MSD Regulations Pertaining to Houseboats

The Clean Water Act permits a State to enforce regulations regarding the design, manufacture, installation, and use of MSDs on Houseboats, even if such a regulation is more stringent than Federal standards. “Houseboat” is defined as a vessel which, for a period of time determined by the State in which the vessel is located, is used primarily as a residence and not primarily as a means of transportation. If you own or operate a boat that fits this definition, check with the State Boating Law Administrator for any special MSD requirements the State may have.




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