Marina Management

Making your marina green

Curious about how you can make your marina more sustainable and environmentally responsible? Take our flash course.

We all have to do our part to sustain our planet and to examine how we can conduct business in ways better for the land and aquatic environment—and what we can do to help make our businesses more sustainable and more attuned to the health and wellness of our planet. Otherwise known as “green” thinking, right?

Here are some fundamental ways to improve marina management and to feel better about the footprint of what we do in the marine industry.

Marine solar systems

Your marina’s environment is often an oasis—off a river, in a sheltered bay or estuary, or even in a busy harbor a marina is often bordered by nature and provides a contemplative and relaxing environment. 

As a boater, you arrive at a marina, tie off, exhale, and breathe deep. Notice the open skies—a tailor-made ecosystem for solar power.

More and more marinas are heading in that sustainable direction. For example, according to a report at, Zecco Marina in Wareham, Massachusetts, installed a solar-energy system on their warehouses that dropped energy costs to zero. The system provides 100 percent of the energy needed to run the facility—all renewable energy, including for the boats drawing power at the marina.

In the case of Zecco Marina, the cost to install the system in 2018 was reportedly about $385,000; however, federal tax credits totaled about $115,000, and the owner, Tony Zecco, said the system was expected to pay for itself over about five years. The marina has a 120-slip floating dock and seasonal and transient moorings, located off the Wareham River near Buzzards Bay and the western entrance to the Cape Cod Canal.

Their solar array was designed and installed by Green Seal Environmental, based in Sagamore Beach on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and serve as consultants for several commercial solar projects. Solar panels are also cropping up on marina docks—such as these from ShoreMaster. Discover more about solar power from The National Renewable Energy Laboratory, a part of the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy Operated by the Alliance for Sustainable Energy.

Boas solar arrays and solar systems mounted to an interior wall
Sustainable and ecologically responsible marina-management approaches include installing solar arrays and solar systems, using green boat-bottom paint, and more.

Another example of a marina using solar power comes from Europe, where MDL Marinas, operators of several marinas in England and one in Spain, installed more than 1,000 photovoltaic (PV)/solar panels at four of the company’s marinas.

Back on our side of the Atlantic, Oyster Harbors Marine in Osterville, on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, has a solar array that helps to power the marina facility and boatyard. The 276 Kyocera photovoltaic panels sit atop a 20,000 square-foot building and were installed by Nexamp in North Andover, MA. The system produces about 30 percent of the marina facility’s electricity needs.

Solar panels at Oyster Harbors Marine on Cape Cod, Mass.
Solar panels at Oyster Harbors Marine on Cape Cod, Mass.

Boat owners, particularly transient or liveaboard boaters, are adopting solar power, too. For examples from Ocean Plant Energy, click here.

Environmentally friendly boat-bottom paint

If not resting on a hoist, most boats sit in the water when not underway, and slime and grime cling to and stain fiberglass hulls. Which means boaters must periodically paint their hulls—a good service opportunity for marinas!

Reduced-friction paint is often used on racing sailboats or powerboats, though nowadays sustainable or eco-friendly, antifouling bottom paints are catching on. These paints repel marine organisms from attaching to the hull material (known as biofouling), but don’t contain toxins that can be harmful to the aquatic environment. For example, copper-based hull paints are banned from many areas because they release heavy-metal toxins in the water, which can wind up in plankton ingested by fish that may in turn become table fare for humans.

Sailors for the Sea is a nonprofit that advocates for the use of environmentally friendly boat-bottom paints—a step in a sustainable direction that marina service managers can control! (Sailors for the Sea also offers a Green Boating Guide, with a list of methods of reducing impacts on the marine environment.)

Some paint brands to consider include Pettit Hydrocoat Eco and Ultima Eco, Interlux Micron CF Antifouling Paint and the company’s Aqua-One water-based coating,TotalBoat Krypton Copper-Free paint, among others. Check with marina suppliers for other options.

Interlux Aqua-One paint can in black
Pettit hydrocoat paint can

Leveraging tech to keep marinas and harbors cleaner

A floating trash can meets a self-flushing filtration system—it’s called a Seabin and the device is designed to clean up harbors and marinas.

Seabin device installed on a dock in the water

Here’s how it works: The floating bin ingests water from the harbor and from this water flush, a plastic filter captures trash and debris, microplastics to 2mm, and oil as the water is pumped out of the bottom of the bin.

The Seabin Project launched internationally last year with the 100 Smarter Cities for a Cleaner Ocean by 2050 campaign, featuring Seabins being deployed first in Sydney, Australia, and this year in several harbors in California. About 70 countries have ordered Seabins and Yamaha Motor Australia is a sponsor.

Fallon White, head of global partnerships for Seabin, said: “We are excited to launch this significant partnership with Yamaha Motor Australia as they rollout their successful USA initiated Rightwaters program in Australia. The partnership will support all facets of Seabin’s operations including marine debris collection, data analysis, community engagement, and education; further enabling our mission for cleaner oceans and hitting our target of 100 cities by 2050.”

Check out Seabins here.

Similarly, The Ocean Cleanup is developing technology to rid oceans of plastics and debris. See a video here and contact the organization for more info.

If your marina is a retailer selling outboards, check out Suzuki's Innovative Micro-Plastics Filter for its outboard motors, which filter harmful micro-plastics from waterways. The device is part of the company’s larger Clean Oceans Project initiative, through which Suzuki is applying its technical expertise and resources to help protect aquatic environments worldwide.

Recycling boat shrink wrap

Shrink wrap is a boat-storage necessity if an owner wants a clean and dry deck inside the hull and an outside free of leaf debris and grunge before splashing the boat for the season. However, the wrap being plastic creates bundles of waste once the boat is uncovered.

On Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Woods Hole Sea Grant is partnering with a local county and five towns across the Cape to recycle boat shrink wrap. See their video on shrink-wrap recycling for tips on preparing the material.

Or, marina managers, you can consider re-using shrink wrap from year to year, as the lifespan of the plastic material is estimated to be five years.

If you’re looking for an alternative to a heavy plastic shrink-wrap cover for your boat, check out React heat-shrink film, which has a formulation that’s sustainable and is designed to be recycled in waste streams.

Association of Marina Industries Clean Marina courses

As a marina owner, manager, or staff member, you probably belong to or are at least familiar with the Association of Marina Industries (AMI)—a great resource for the business of marina management. 

AMI can help with sustainability efforts, too, through its voluntary Clean Marina compliance program. According to a report in Boating Industry, the program intends to allow marinas to gain clean-marina certifications, focusing on training marina managers.

“This program is unique because it will focus on training the people responsible for implementing their facility’s clean marina program,” said Ellen De Vries, program director. “Training will be supported by an online system that allows clean marina professionals to certify and verify their facilities meet national clean marina guidelines.”

The program is sponsored by Safe Harbor Marinas, Suntex Marinas, Westrec Marinas, and MarineMax. See the benefits here.

Reduce paperwork with marina management software, Dockwa e-contract

Let’s keep sustainable thinking going by considering reducing office paperwork by using e-contracts for transient and seasonal mooring and slip booking with Dockwa. 

With Dockwa’s service, you can keep detailed notes, add dates on marina arrival and departure times, indicate what space you need (for a slip or mooring space), and add the customer’s billing information.

Find more information on Dockwa’s long-term contracts and billing by clicking here. The service helps automate marina-booking info and allows time away from the marina phone, as boaters can book online with your marina directly at an hour.


Feel good about fueling

When you’re filling the boat’s fuel tank, don’t fret about spills when you have a Clean Way Fuel Fill—it mitigates concerns about spilling gas into the drink. Pretty cool!

Clean way to pump fuel