Boater Survey Results

How much do recreational boaters know about clean boating regulations?

As part of our Clean Marine BC program, nearly 200 recreational boaters participated in a survey to test their knowledge about clean and safe boating – and the results surprised us in good, and not-so-good, ways.

The good news is that most respondents know to report a marine spill to the Coast Guard. An easy number to remember is the 1-800-OILS-911 spill reporting hotline, and then they contact the Coast Guard and all other relevant agencies (but always call 9-1-1 directly in an emergency). More than 60 percent of respondents also knew that all spills must be reported, regardless of their size.

While a majority of respondents knew that using soap to disperse a spill in water is illegal, nearly a quarter of respondents admitted to not knowing whether it was permitted or not.

The not-so-good news is that respondents were unsure about the distance they must keep between their watercraft and all orcas in southern BC coastal waters. The silver lining, however, is that nearly 80 percent of respondents said they keep either 400 metres (the regulation) or 500 metres from orcas. And that is great news!

Southern Resident orcas need space and quiet waters to use echolocation to hunt and communicate with others in their pod. At GSA, we support an even bigger orca buffer zone – and that is actually coming to fruition on the other side of the Salish Sea!

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee is expected to sign new legislation to require recreational boats to keep 1,000 yards (or 914 metres) away from Southern Resident orcas, beginning in 2025  – and we encourage all boaters in BC waters to keep more than the required 400 metre distance from these whales.

About the Clean Boater Survey

Nearly 200 recreational boaters participated in our multiple-choice survey, consisting of 10 questions. Surveys were taken between June 2022 and March 2023 in the Gulf Islands, Vancouver Island, Lower Mainland, Kelowna, and also online. More than half of respondents had more than 20 years of boating experience. Boating experience of the other half of respondents was almost evenly divided among those having 10-20 years,  2-9 years, and those with fewer than two years of experience on the water.

Respondents to the Clean Boater Survey received an awesome Clean Boater Kit with three types of spill supplies, our Guide to Green Boating and a bunch of other swag.

If you’d like to join our volunteer Dock Walking team to help us reach more boaters this summer, sign up here!

All survey results

Thank you to our funders and sponsors:



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