That's the message from state officials as Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of summer, gets underway.
The state Department of Environmental Protection is asking boaters to help the environment by using caution in ecologically sensitive areas while having fun boating on Barnegat Bay, and also using similar restraint when boating in other important ecological areas throughout the state.
A good place to start, the agency said in a statement released Friday, is an online interactive map for boaters so they can can easily learn the locations of the 16 designated ecologically sensitive areas in the bay estuary.
Visitors to the map site can also find services such as the locations of marinas, sewage pump-out facilities, bait-and-tackle shops, launches and ramps, restrooms, and places to dispose trash.
To view the map, visit: http://www.nj.gov/dep/barnegatbay/plan-watercraft-map.htm
“Recreational marine businesses, especially marinas, depend heavily on clean water and a healthy boating environment,’’ said Melissa Danko, Executive Director of the Marine Trades Association of New Jersey. “As an industry, we work hard every day to preserve our natural resources and encourage boaters to do their part when out on the water and to be aware of their actions and impacts at all times. By working together, we will be able help protect our natural resources not only for this generation but for generations to come.’’
Above all else, the agency has issued a small list of tips on what boaters can do to keep the bay clean:
- Stay out of restricted areas set aside for wildlife.
- Do not harass nesting birds and other animals
- Maintain a 100-foot distance from natural shorelines
- Minimize wakes in all shallow areas to help reduce erosion and harm to aquatic plants and animals
- Buoy mooring chains and lines to prevent them from scraping on the Bay bottom and harming submerged aquatic vegetation
- Appreciate wildlife from a distance