Good practice

In order to avoid, minimise and address potential environmental impacts arising from their operations, ports and harbours operating within or near marine SACs should:

  • Educate, encourage and train staff to avoid and minimise pollution from maintenance activities, as far as is practical. This can be achieved by providing information to all staff to raise awareness of:
  • the importance of the area in which they work for its marine conservation features and the reasons why it has been designated as a marine SAC,
  • the potential environmental impacts that may occur as a result of maintenance activities undertaken in the harbour area, and
  • more environmentally sensitive ways of undertaking maintenance activities, illustrating practical and economic benefits where they exist.
  • Ensure that all employees follow simple good housekeeping practices to minimise the amounts of harmful substances entering the marine environment as a result of maintenance operations. Staff should be required to:
  • sweep up all solid waste such as paint chippings and sandblasting wastes and place these in skips for land disposal,
  • mop up any spills of harmful substances and excess chemicals after cleaning operations and never swill them over the side of jetties and wharves into the harbour waters,
  • place ground sheets under boats during cleaning operations, where practical, and
  • use, handle and store harmful substances in a responsible manner in compliance with health and safety regulations.
  • Use environmentally sensitive alternatives to harmful chemical agents when cleaning harbour surfaces, such as pressure washing with harbour water (where this method is effective enough to ensure public safety). Where there is no suitable effective alternative to the cleaning agent already used, consider only using cleaning agents such as bleach on harbour walkways where there is a safety risk to the public or staff from algal growth.
  • Give high priority to finding effective alternative means of cleaning harbour structures and vessels with the aim to discontinue the use of products that contain phosphates and chlorine. Consider, where appropriate, introducing new surfaces which require less cleaning.
  • Provide adequate reception facilities for the safe disposal of maintenance wastes, including bins and skips for non-hazardous sweepings and debris and special points for the disposal of hazardous substances, such as concentrated cleaning chemicals, oils, antifouling paints and contaminated scrapings.
  • Where good working practices are considered insufficient to prevent an identified pollution problem, harbour infrastructure in outside maintenance areas can be modified to minimise the amounts of contaminants entering the marine environment. This may include the following steps which will require a cost to the harbour that should be considered against the potential for environmental improvement:
  • installing permanent ‘scrub-off’ facilities to collect maintenance residues from boat cleaning operations,
  • constructing a bund around maintenance areas and collecting wastes in a sump to allow debris to settle out before the water runs into the harbour or sewage drain system, and
  • investing in a separator for oil to be removed from wash down wastes.
  • Increase public awareness of the steps taken in harbours to protect the environment from the possible effects of maintenance activities.

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