143035_DBW Course_r3

Chapter 2 X Boating Law, Navigational Rules and Navigational Aids

No Discharge Areas It is illegal to release wastes, treated or not, into a federally designated No Discharge Area. Your MSD must be connected to a holding tank or secured to prevent all sewage discharges. California’s No Discharge Areas are: ƒ El Dorado County: Lake Tahoe ƒ Los Angeles County: Avalon Bay Harbor ƒ Marin County: Richardson Bay ƒ Orange County: Dana Point Harbor; Huntington Harbor; Newport Bay (Upper and Lower); Sunset Bay ƒ Placer County: Lake Tahoe ƒ San Diego County: Mission Bay; Oceanside Harbor; San Diego Bay ƒ Ventura County: Channel Islands Harbor Plastic Pollution of the seas from garbage dumping is a global problem. The inter national treaty to prevent pollution from ships (MARPOL) attacks the plastic pollution problem. It is against Federal law to dump plastic trash into the ocean or into navigable waters of the United States. Regional, state or local regulations may further restrict dumping garbage. Plastic does not easily decay, and it’s dangerous to animal life. Thousands of animals die each year after becoming entangled in or eating plastic trash. It can also be a hazard to boats if caught in a propeller or water intake. The pollution laws apply to all boats regardless of size. Violations may result in civil penalties up to $25,000, a fine of up to $250,000 for an individual or up to $500,000 for an organization and/or a prison sentence of up to six years.


If your boat is 26 feet or longer, it must display a Garbage Disposal Placard of at least 40 square inches (5” x 9”) where crew and passengers can read it. The placard must be permanently attached and made of a durable material. Placards can be purchased at marine supply dealers. The placard tells the crew and passengers that it is illegal to dump garbage and trash overboard and describes fines and penalties.


Although you’ll find legal zones for discharging garbage, responsible boaters will not dump any garbage or waste into the water. All U.S. vessels 40 feet or more in length and equipped with a galley and berthing must carry a written Waste Management Plan if the vessel operates beyond three miles from shore. The Waste Management Plan must designate the person in charge of carrying out the plan and describe procedures for collecting, processing, storing and properly disposing of garbage.


The discharge of all garbage, most importantly all forms of plastic, is prohibited into the navigable waters of the United States and into all other waters as specifically allowed below. A person who violates these requirements is liable for civil and/or criminal penalties.

12 or more nautical miles from land PERMITTED Food waste. Wash water and cleaning agents may be discharged en route as far as practicable from shore if not harmful to the marine environment.

3 to 12 nautical miles from land PERMITTED Ground food waste that is able to pass through a screen with openings no larger than 1 inch.

Within 3 nautical miles of land Discharge of all garbage is prohibited.

MARPOL Annex V Special Area

Wider Caribbean Region (Gulf of Mexico & Caribbean Sea)

Discharge of all garbage prohibited out to 12nm

Food waste must be ground

Regional, state, and local restrictions on garbage discharges also may apply.

MARPOL graphic courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.


California Course for Safe Boating

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