By Capt. Carl Kelly
Pollution prevention is a major concern on the water. The River and Harbor Act was enacted in 1899, and is still in effect. It, and many more recent pollution prevention laws deal with major oil and fuel spills from large vessels and marine facilities. But, all persons who operate watercraft of any size or propulsion are subject to these laws.
The bottom line is simple. The operator or owner of a vessel is responsible for anything that enters into the water from his/her boat and may be liable to major fines.
Some pollution is accidental and may not be retrievable, but all pollution from a vessel is the captain’s responsibility. It must be retrieved, if possible, carried to land, and disposed in a proper receptacle.
Note that if you pick up someone else’s marine trash, it is now your trash. If you toss it back into the water or on the shoreline, you are now responsible for the litter and liable to the applicable fines.