Protecting the marine environment

How to prevent pollution and protect marine biodiversity while recreational boating.

Vessel owners can help protect WA’s aquatic biodiversity and prevent the introduction and spread of marine pest species in WA by:

  • conducting regular vessel maintenance
  • applying effective and environmentally friendly antifouling paint
  • disposing of garbage and waste correctly.

Antifouling paint

Antifouling paint is used to prevent marine organisms from attaching themselves to vessels.

These organisms can affect the vessel’s performance, damage equipment and impact on other marine life.

The application and removal of antifouling paint should only take place in a controlled environment as the biocides in the paint are toxic and can kill other marine life.

Use of tributyltin for antifouling is restricted worldwide. Western Australia also restricts the use of any antifouling paint that contains copper or tin.

To prevent the impact of antifouling paint on the marine environment, you should:

  • use teflon or silicon-based antifouling paints
  • apply or remove antifouling paint in areas where runoff can be contained and collected for disposal, such as a designated area at a boat-lifting facility
  • collect all paint residue after sanding or scraping the hull and disposing of them appropriately
  • ensure all antifouling paints are stored and disposed of correctly.

Detergents and boat cleaning products

Many products used to clean boats contain phosphates, ammonia, chlorine or other chemicals that may be toxic to aquatic life.

Cleaning in or around waterways may release chemicals into the marine environment either directly or through drainage systems.

Detergents containing phosphate increase the nutrient levels, which could lead to algal blooms. This reduces the amount of oxygen in the water and kills fish and other marine life.

Phosphates can also accumulate in the sediment and be released again when disturbed.

Some cleaning products can also coat the gills of fish and cut off their oxygen supply, while other products may contain toxic chemicals that accumulate in the food chain.

To prevent the impact of detergents and boat cleaning products on the marine environment, you should:

  • always remove your boat from the water to do any hull cleaning
  • use minimal cleaning products - cleaning your boat with fresh water and scrubbing brushes after each use will reduce the amount of chemicals needed
  • not use bleach or products containing chlorine
  • use phosphate-free, biodegradable cleaning products
  • use environmentally-friendly alternatives where possible.


Dumping garbage overboard from your vessel can have a severe impact on the marine environment.

It is against the law to dump the following in the ocean:

  • oil
  • plastics, including garbage bag and synthetic ropes, fishing lines and net
  • garbage within 12 nautical miles from the nearest land, including food waste, paper, rags, glass or metals.

Marine life, such as turtles, whales, fish and sea-birds may mistake garbage for food, which can block their digestive systems and cause them to starve to death.

Garbage can also entangle marine life causing them to starve or drown.

To prevent the impact of garbage on the marine environment, you should:

  • not throw any waste overboard, store it in a secure area onboard
  • collect any garbage you come across, either in the water or on land
  • dispose of all waste at a proper waste disposal facility on shore.

Remember 'Stow it, don't throw it'.

Excessive noise

People and wildlife who live near the shore can find loud noises disturbing.

To prevent the impact of excessive noise on the marine environment, you should:

  • check your boat's motor and make sure it is not too loud,
  • control the volume of music players and other devices that you have on board.

Oil pollution

Oil pollution can have a significant affect on the marine environment. Find out how you can prevent marine oil pollution when boating.

Page last updated: Tue Jul 11 2023 10:06:11 AM