Boater Info

Become a Clean Boater 

Oregon is renowned for its majestic, clean and sparkling waterways and we know boaters want to do their part to keep them that way. That's why we've created the Clean Boater Program, where we provide boaters some tools to help keep their water clean. 

Oregon Clean Boater Program- Details
Protecting Oregon’s environment is not only the responsibility of state agencies and businesses, but of all Oregonians. Boaters can play an important role to help ensure that future generations can enjoy clean waterways. 


So to say "thank you" to all the boaters that care about the environment and strive to adopt clean boating practices, the Marine Board has developed a recognition program to reward those of you that take that extra step. This is your opportunity to sign-up and become officially designated as an Oregon Clean Boater!


Every boater loves being on the water. A clean marine environment is a vital aspect of enjoying the boating experience. With 180,000 boats registered in Oregon today, the cumulative actions of boaters can have a significant impact on the health of the marine environment. You can help to keep our waterways clean and healthy by following these Clean Boater tips and taking the​ Clean Boater Pledge.


Small drips and spills of gasoline, diesel, and other petroleum products add up and can have a serious effect on the marine environment, such as: death of fish, mammals, and birds; cancer, mutations, and/or birth defects; destruction of plant life; and reduction of food supply for marine organisms.


  • Fuel your boat slowly and carefully – attend the fuel nozzle at all times.
  • Make sure the fuel nozzle connects to the fuel tank to prevent static discharge.
  • Only fill the tank to 90% since fuel expands as it warms up.
  • Use your hand to check for air escaping from the vent. When the tank is nearly full, you’ll feel an increase in airflow. Also listen for a gurgling sound indicating the tank is
    nearly full.
  • Fill portable gas tanks on shore – where spills are less likely to occur and easier to clean up.
  • Outboards: close tank fuel vent when boat is not in use to save fuel from vapor loss.
  • Built-in fuel tanks: install fuel/air separator in the air vent line from tank to prevent air
    vent spills.

Invest in newer engine technology 

In 1996, the federal EPA approved tougher emission standards and required engine manufacturers to replace carbureted two stroke outboards and personal watercraft with cleaner, new technology.  Manufacturers were given nine years to comply with the EPA rules to reduce emissions by 2006.  Emission standards back in 1996 were not set for sterndrives and inboard engines due to the inherently clean technology these engines have always provided.  

Two-stroke engines are fuel-inefficient and release up to 30 percent of their gas/oil mixture unburned directly into the water. For every 10 gallons of gas used, more than two gallons of gas and oil go into the water in the form of a rainbow sheen seen when the motor is idling.

  • Consider replacing your old, carbureted two stroke outboard with a quieter, cleaner, and more efficient direct-injection two stroke engine or a four stroke engine.  These engines offer many advantages to boaters and the environment.  Direct fuel injection engines emit 75% to 95% less ozone-forming exhaust than conventional marine engines do for the same horsepower.  Four stroke engines emit even less.  The cost has come down due to demand and come with additional savings in fuel, saving money in the long run. 
  • If you have a large outboard you don’t plan on replacing, consider purchasing a small four-stroke "kicker" to use when trolling or moving short distances. You’ll save money on fuel, save wear-and-tear on your larger motor and enjoy a cleaner environment. 
  • EPA compliant motors are easier to start, have faster acceleration, quicker throttle response and reduced fumes and noise. 

Handle spills appropriately
When detergents, soaps, and solvents are put on fuel spills, fuel that might otherwise evaporate from the surface is scattered down into the water. This "rainfall effect" causes pollution in all levels of the water, rather than just the surface, and is very difficult to cleanup. Additionally, detergents can contain chemicals that are harmful to marine life.

  • If you have a spill wipe it up with a rag – don’t hose it off into the water.
  • If fuel is spilled into the water:
    • Call 1-800-OILS-911 and the Coast Guard at 1-800-424-8802 for any spill, large or small, that causes An oil sheen.
    • Don’t use soap or dish detergent - they worsen the problem and their use on spills in the water is against federal law.
  • If a spill occurs in a marina, notify the marina
    management immediately. 

Bilge Care

Bilges are also a potential source of pollution since they tend to collect engine oil, fuel, antifreeze, and transmission fluid. When an automatic bilge pump is activated, these fluids are pumped overboard. Absorbent bilge pads absorb petroleum products but not water. When soaked with oil, they can be disposed of properly.

Control oil in the bilge

  • Place oil absorbent pads or bilge socks in the bilge to catch oil.
  • Place an oil absorbent pad under the engine.
  • Replace oil absorbent materials when heavily soiled or saturated, or at least once a year.
  • Keep the engine well-tuned: no leaking seals, gaskets, or hoses.
  • Change oil filters often. Slip a plastic bag over the filter before removal to catch drips.
  • Secure fuel hoses to prevent chafing and leaks.
  • Never discharge or pump any bilge water that appears oily or has oil sheen into or near the water– it is against the law.
  • Use oil absorbents or water/oil separators before pumping the bilge.
  • Trailer your boat to an area that provides containment before removing bilge or boat plugs.
  • Do not use bilge cleaners - they simply spread out the oil and do not remove it from the water.
Handle sewage appropriately
  • Most boats in Oregon have marine heads with Type III marine sanitation devices (holding tanks with no treatment) or carry portable toilets on board. Use pumpout facilities for Type III marine sanitary devices (MSDs) and empty portable toilets at dump stations or at home.
  • If your boat has a holding tank with a Y-valve and through-hull fitting, keep them locked closed when inside coastal waters or on lakes or reservoirs.
  • Use restrooms on shore whenever possible.
  • Establish a regular maintenance schedule for your MSD based on manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Avoid using additives like quaternary ammonium compounds (QAC), formaldehyde, or zinc sulp​hate in your holding tank. Use safer enzyme-based products to control odor and reduce solids.
  • Consider installing a filtered air holding tank.
  • Keep diapers, sanitary napkins, oils, solvents, and other harmful chemicals out of toilets.
  • Dispose of your pet’s waste properly.

Ta the pledgand receive a FREE Clean Boater Kit​
Take the pledge and receive a FREE Clean Boater Kit​​​​​​