Marine Safety Program: Awareness of Maritime Pollution Issues Can Improve Environmental Protection

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Did you know that the Coast Guard Auxiliary has a Marine Safety Program? This augments the Coast Guard’s efforts for ensuring the safety and shelter of our nation’s prized waterway assets. While the overall Marine Safety Program is quite diverse and has a wide breadth of agendas, not many people would think that marine safety includes environmental protection of our river’s tributaries, wetlands and watershed areas. But it does!

Article by Auxiliarist Mary Bethea, Harrisburg, PA

Satellite picture of Chesapeake Bay (center) and Delaware Bay (upper right). Photo courtesy of NASA Landsat.

A great example of marine safety involves the Chesapeake Bay watershed. This region has more than 100,000 streams and rivers  that stretch across more than 64,000 square miles, encompassing parts of six states — Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia — and the entire District of Columbia, making it the largest of any coastal water body in the world. This is why our actions have such a significant influence on the health of the Bay.

Once a viable ecosystem for oysters and other marine life, the Bay now struggles to make an improvement in terms of the overall health of its ecosystem.  In the 1970’s the Chesapeake Bay was identified as the world’s first marine dead zone, unable to support life. This was a direct result of pollutants affecting the watershed. Everything we do on the land—including the use of automobiles, fertilizers, pesticides, and household cleaners — as well as on the water – such as negligence of recreational boaters to use sewage pumpout stations, properly take care of trash, or control oil and noxious liquid substances – can affect the our waterways.

Chesapeake Bay, Bay Ridge, Maryland. Photo courtesy of Robert Madden / National Geographic.

This is just one example of why programs to foster the public’s stewardship of watershed areas are imperative for these habitats and protecting our natural resources. The Marine Safety Program helps manage, influence, and provides access to a safe, secure, efficient and environmentally sound waterways system by providing marine safety information. Pollution prevention is everybody’s job, including the Auxiliary’s!

Are you an Auxiliarist interested in becoming involved in the Marine Safety Program?  Courses available include:

•The Good Mate: This course was developed by the Ocean Conservancy and is designed to encourage ocean and waterway conservation by boaters.

Introduction to Marine Safety and Environmental Protection(IMSEP): This course is designed to provide an extensive background in the history, policies, laws and regulations pertaining to the Marine Safety and Environmental Protection missions.

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