May 18th-24th 2014
By Elizabeth Bevan, Sea Grant Knauss Fellow at the National Sea Grant Office
Whether it’s fresh, salty, or somewhere in between, the allure of water attracts people for fun in the sun and summertime memories. Yet, sadly, many people are injured, lives are lost, and issues of environmental degradation arise due to unsafe boating practices on U.S. waterways. Sea Grant programs are working hard to manage the delicate balance between the nation’s diverse boating needs and the protection of its coastal resources.
Sea Grant programs strive to promote safe and sustainable boating practices through a variety of activities such as community workshops, conferences demonstrating the sustainable use of waterways, and the creation and distribution of outreach material that share information on required and recommended safety gear to keep onboard a vessel. Sea Grant agents live and work in the communities they serve, therefore each program’s effort is customized based on the community’s individual needs. In areas with large commercial fishing populations, Sea Grant programs conduct survival trainings for emergency situations on the water and provide first responder safety certification courses. In areas that experience severe ocean and coastal storms, Sea Grant programs provide information for boaters on how to manage their boats in the face of hurricanes. This locally focused approach allows Sea Grant programs to connect with those in need, including some of the more isolated and vulnerable groups.
Many boating activities impact not only people, but also affect the surrounding environment as well. Minimizing this impact is the driving force behind many Sea Grant programs promoting best management practices for environmental stewardship. Much of this effort takes shape as the Clean Marinas Program. Sea Grant programs across the coast, including the Great Lakes region, have certified over 800 different Clean Marianas.
Get out this summer and enjoy the water, but be safe and be respectful. To find a Sea Grant program in your area take a look at where our programs are located here!
Meet some Sea Grant Agents that help people be safe and sustainable boaters:
Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program Agent: Torie Baker
Louisiana Sea Grant Extension Agent: Lauren Land
Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium Extension Agent: Peter Nyugen
New York Sea Grant Extension Agent: David White
Ohio Sea Grant Extension Agent: Sarah Orlando