Working with Boaters and Marine Trades for Cleaner Washington Water

An Interview with Our Neighbors to the North.

The Clean Boating Foundation recently interviewed Michelle Young–Clean Marine BC’s Coordinator at Georgia Strait Alliance.


 What is your background? What is your position and how did you become interested in it?

Growing up on a remote British Columbia Island, I spent my youth aboard boats of all types. Throughout my life, I’ve lived on four different west coast islands, the most recent is Gabriola, which has been my home for the last four years.

I love the ocean, but I also truly appreciate the role it plays in keeping our communities and economies healthy—it’s a marvelous resource that we must work to protect. That is why I feel so fortunate to be the coordinator of Georgia Strait Alliance’s Clean Marine BC green boating and marina eco-certification program. As a boater, there are practical and easy ways to reduce pollution and minimize our impact on the marine environment, and it means a lot to me to contribute to clean boating practices.

What differences do you see in the CBF and Clean Marine program? What are the similarities?

Clean Marine BC (CMBC)and the CBF share a focus on minimizing the impact that boating and boating facilities have on the marine environment. While the CBF certifies boatyards, CMBC also certifies marinas, yacht clubs and harbor authorities.

How can we work together to create cleaner waters?

As organizations that share an interest in a sustainable Salish Sea, we engage with boaters who cross the Canadian-U.S. border. While some boating regulations may differ between the countries, there are numerous best practices—such as avoiding the urge to top off the gasoline tank to ensure no drops enter the water, using non toxic cleaning and maintenance products, and not pumping oily bilge water overboard. Boaters, regardless of their boating location, can use and follow these guidelines.

Clean Marine BC also has a Guide to Green Boating that provides eco-solutions and tips for recreational boaters to reduce their impact on the marine habitat.

What are you most excited about for the future of green boating?

In the Canadian context, I’m watching closely how our federal government is making small inroads to addressing derelict and abandoned vessels. Due to the moderate climate in British Columbia, we have a significant number of derelicts that slowly leak contaminants into our waterways all year long.

In B.C., I’m also pleased to see the number of pump outs is increasing. In Vancouver, for example, the municipal government offers free pump outs, extended hours and enhanced service at civic marinas during the summer months. This is something other municipalities could also implement.

On the technology front, I’m encouraged about advancements that are helping to mitigate the impact of boats of all sizes. These include motors that emit fewer emissions, a growth in the use of alternative technologies, such as batteries and electricity, and a reduction in noise through advancements in propeller and boat design. All of these measures support a strong marine environment, which is particularly important in the Salish Sea during the summer months when endangered Southern Resident killer whales call these waters home.


A huge thank you to Michelle Young for interviewing with us!!

For More Information on the Georgia Strait Alliance check out their website here, or check out their Facebook Page!