Clean Boating Tip of the Month – Petroleum Control

Tip #2 – Dealing with Fuel, Oil, and Bilge

Boaters want to recreate and fish in clean waters as much as non-boaters. However, hydrocarbon spills into local waterways can have serious impacts on the environment. One gallon of spilt fuel and contaminate one million gallons of area waterways – this is something boaters need to do everything they can to avoid.



There are several things boaters can do reduce the number, and amount, of fuel spilled.

  • Stay with your vessel while fueling – listen, you can hear the gurgling when it is getting close
  • Use a vent collector for overflows
  • Wipe spills with an absorbent pad or cloth – DO NOT use detergents or soap, this makes the situation worse and is against federal law
  • If a fuel spill occurs within a marina, contact marina management immediately
  • If fueling a PWC, use some form of containment for spills and wipe with absorbent pads


  • Use absorbent pads to clean bilges and place such pads within the bilge over time
  • check seals, gaskets, and hoses for leaks
  • DO NOT use detergents or soaps to clean bilge – it makes the problem worse and is against federal law
  • Consider using oil/water separators in your bilge system
  • If trailering your vessel, pull boat plug and discharge bilge in a containment area for this purpose
  • Properly dispose of used absorbent pads. If you are in a marina, check with management on how to do this. If at home, many local garages will take your used pads and rags.

Following these tips can help reduce fuel/oil spills in our local waterways.


Posted: August 26, 2019

Category: Coasts & Marine, Natural Resources
Tags: Clean Boating

Subscribe For More Great Content

IFAS Blogs Categories