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As manager of one of the larger marinas in our harbor, I think the article by Rob Davis on boater pollution is pretty one-sided and does not accurately reflect the current situation among San Diego’s recreational and commercial boaters. I have been a boater for more than 40 years, I am a licensed captain and have worked in the marine industry in San Diego since 1987. I have been a member of the San Diego Port Tenants Association since 1994 and have worked on the bottom paint issue for the past six years with the Unified Port of San Diego and other marine industry professionals.
Today, most marinas in our bay have the education of their boaters as a priority in their operation. The reason the port inspectors have not had to issue many citations to our marinas is for the past six years the marinas and boat yards have been a part of an education process to bring marina managers up-to-speed on their responsibilities to educate boaters on the Clean Water Act, Oil Pollution Act and spill prevention and reporting requirements. The marina takes it seriously and does the best it can to abide by the rules. Almost all marinas post and enforce best management practices for divers authorized to work on their leaseholds; practices developed by a committee of boat owners, boat yards, marinas, and divers. Marinas and boat yards were instrumental in getting the port to create a diver ordinance which is in its infancy but working well. The marina industry created the California Clean Marinas program. In other words, we are part of the solution, not part of the problem as Coastkeeper seems to want to portray.
On the subject of copper in bottom paints (not in all boat paints as the article indicated), a lot of us in the marine industry believe the science used to “create” this problem in San Diego Bay was flawed. A result of the science used caused the Regional Water Quality Control Board to issue an order setting a temporary maximum daily load for the Shelter Island Basin. Over the many years since its inception it was the feeling of many in the boating industry that the study used to justify it was very flawed. Recently new studies have shown there is NO copper contamination in our bay, one of them by SPAWARS. There is currently a move on to get the Shelter Island basin de-listed with the Regional Water Quality Control Board. I also notice no mention of the fact that San Francisco Bay has been de-listed after studies showed they were not an impaired body of water.
So two points, we in the marina and boatyard industry are working hard to educate the boater on environmental responsibility. It is far more prevalent than when I first started boating and is a priority for us. After all, more than any other group who uses our water world, we have the most to gain in keeping it clean and free of pollution. It is unfair to claim a weekly run through our marinas and finding maybe one or two boaters doing something they should not do is an accurate representation of all boaters. Second, the jury is still out on copper pollution in our bay and the need to ban copper-based paints altogether. We have asked the port to move forward with the de-listing process to stop the Shelter Island Basin temporary maximum daily load and the San Diego Port Tenants have voted to ask the port to withdraw as co-sponsor of the Christine Kehoe bill. We are being proactive and, in spite of the rather lopsided portrayal of boaters put forward in your article, we care more than most about our bays and oceans.
Captain Ken Guyer lives in Loma Portal.
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