San Francisco Bay Cleanup Efforts and Pollution by Boaters

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Stu Jackson

I wrote this to The Chronicle (cc to Latitude 38) because of a column in today's newspaper by Paul Olva.

Hi again, Paul,

You may remember our discussions in 2009 during the Clipper Cove Cleanup efforts.  I am glad that the debris has been removed.  I'm still not sure if the draconian anchoring requirements were ever needed, and, since they're still on the books, could create an issue in the future.

I read your Saturday September 3, 2011, column with great interest, and have enjoyed your work.  I think it's great more that more folks are cleaning up the Bay and that water quality is improving.  I saw the "Ray" on TV during the Giants game last night, and have seen one in Grand Marina where we keep our boat.

I am, however, extremely disappointed in your "Bucket and chuck it" paragraphs, which preceded the "public awareness about the problem," and your discussion about a potential dye tablets "solution." 

You eventually got to the real issue of pollution from runoff, which is the primary contributor to the issues discussed in the article, after spending four paragraphs bashing boaters.  You completely neglected industrial pollution.  The Sausalito sewage treatment plant comes to mind immideiately.

I find those boater bashing paragraphs offensive, incorrect and irresponsible.  It gives the non-boating community ever more "ammunition" to maintain the absurd notion that boaters create the water pollution problems in the Bay.

Boaters are generally more ecologically conscious than most landlubbers.  Where is all that plastic coming from anyway?  It certainly isn't from boats out sailing or in their slips.

In a recent discussion about bottom paint legislation, I wrote: "Almost, I say almost, regardless of the potential harm that copper can do to the environment, why, oh why, do these same legislatures IGNORE the REGULAR dumping of millions of gallons of raw sewage and oil runoff?  That is the REAL outrage."

It would seem than a much more appropriate and responsible column would note that boaters have been stewards of the Bay they use and that boaters share the concerns of all of the coastal and Bay cleanup efforts.

I agree, "bucket and chuck it" is offensive and gross.  But the old argument still applies:  If one boater did this they should be hauled out on the yardarm but it's a drop in the ocean compared to all the other stuff that pollutes this fine estuary.

It might be helpful for you to consider writing a followup column about how green and ecologically helpful boaters are, instead of including a major part of your piece with the perceived and incorrect need for dye tablets, a concept that could gain ground thanks to your "promotion."  Dye tablets would be pretty much unenforceable in the Bay, and is a basically unrealistic approach to a problem that does not exist. 

Catalina Island comes to mind, but as a responsible journalist you must be aware that the island's own sewage treatment creates more pollution there than boaters ever could.

As a boater yourself, I can't conceive of why you would include such negative material.  I found that section of your article offensive, misleading and disheartening.  It is counterproductive to all of the efforts we boaters have made to assist in the cleanup efforts of the past fifty years.  It paints a completely unfair picture of the boating community.

Best regards,

Stu Jackson
Catalina 34 International Association Secretary
557 Crestmont Drive
Oakland, Ca 94619-2319
Aquavite #224 (1986)
Stu Jackson, C34 IA Secretary, #224 1986, "Aquavite"  Cowichan Bay, BC  Maple Bay Marina  SR/FK, M25, Rocna 10 (22#) (NZ model)

"There is no problem so great that it can't be solved."