Falmouth Harbour have collaborated with other authorities to develop guidance for harbour users to promote sustainable use of the harbour. We hope the following advice is useful. If you would like any further information, please get in touch. You can also download our Sustainability Newsletters here.
The Fal and Helford Special Area of Conservation (SAC) management forum has created an Environmental Code of Practice for the area to aid harbour users to minimise the impacts they may have.
If you have any questions relating to the environmental Code of Practice or would like to see any additional information, please get in touch.
As a boat user you will likely know it is not always as simple as setting sail and enjoying the water. There is a large amount of upkeep required to maintain a boat in working order and the marine environment is tough on materials.
There are some messy jobs to do every so often and some of these jobs can have impacts on the marine environment when not managed appropriately. A short and not exhaustive list is provided below of activities that can have an adverse impact and information provided by boat users on what you can do to minimise environmental impacts.
Black and Grey water
Black water (sewage) and Grey water (dirty water from washing dishes and taking showers) can have an adverse impact on water quality.
Black water introduces bacteria and nutrients to the water which results in reduced water quality and for marine life and can cause illness to swimmers and personal water craft users. Further impacts related to black water can be found here.
Falmouth Harbour have installed a black water pump out facility, access is tidal and use is to be booked. This service is free to use for existing customers. Please call the Falmouth Haven team to book or for more information.
Falmouth Haven also provide shoreside toilet, shower and clothes washing facilities for customers. Please use these in preference to onboard as this will limit discharges into the water.
Grey water is a source of pollution as soaps and cleaning products contain chemicals which are harmful to the marine environment. You can use eco-friendly marine safe products to wash decks, clothes and you in to reduce the impact this has. Some recommendations for eco friendly products are listed below:
Waste water from washing machines can also be a source of microplastics if washing synthetic materials you can catch the fibres in bags designed to do that or more recently filters to place on the waste pipe of your washing machine. There is a local Cornish Company developing a filter for washing machines, click here for more information.
The bags are available to purchase from a few sources. One supplier is GUPPYFRIEND Washing Bag Online Shop | STOP! Micro Waste
Whilst out and about you may come across some marine wildlife such as seabirds, basking sharks, seals or dolphins and maybe even a whale! Amazing as it is to see these birds and animals our presence can cause them distress and disturb them from performing their normal behaviours such as feeding and resting.
How does disturbance impact on marine life?
If marine life is disturbed frequently at a low level it can have an impact of their chances of survival as normal behaviour is altered impacting on breeding, eating and resting activities.
If significantly startled seals have been known to injure themselves escaping at speed from a perceived threat.
How can we avoid disturbance and limit our impact?
The Marine and Coastal Code Guidelines describes how to avoid disturbance to marine animals, they also have a 24/7 hotline to report disturbance of marine animals 0345 201 26 26
For more information on the enigmatic animals we share our marine environment with please have a look at the following links:
Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust – Welcome to Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust (CSGRT) aka Seal Research Trust – Cornwall Seal Group
Cornwall Wildlife Trust – Marine | Cornwall Wildlife Trust
Bilges contain a mixture of seawater, oils, fuels and potentially other chemicals. It is important that we minimise the volume of oils and fuels getting into water as even small amounts can have a long term impact. If everyone is putting small amounts into the water this all builds up.
Only 5% of oil and fuel pollution in the water is from catastrophic spills, the majority comes from every day sources. Please take steps to reduce pollution from your bilges. There is a great list of improvements you can make on page 4 of the Green Blue Guide to Coastal Boating.
Environmental Information Regulations require organisations to provide access to environmental information that they hold. Falmouth Harbour (FHC) provide access to this information through our website.
If you cannot find what you are looking for and think that FHC hold this information please see our EIR policy and information on how to request information.
What are Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS)?
Invasive non-native species are those animals and plants brought to the UK by human activities i.e. transported on the hulls of boat that successfully live and grow on our land and in our waters and that have an impact on native species, our health and / or economy.
Are INNS already in Falmouth?
Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS) are already present in Falmouth Harbour and the wider South West. The Marine Biological Association (MBA) last surveyed our pontoons in 2016 and found 13 species of INNS. The results of this survey and one completed in 2013 are available here.
Falmouth Harbour have assessed the INNS risk resulting from our activities and have generated a Biosecurity Plan for the Falmouth Haven Marina and Boat Park. You can access the Biosecurity Plan here.
Can I spot INNS?
You may well be able to spot some Invasive Species whilst out and about on the beach or snorkelling. There are some handy identification sheets available here.
Slipper limpet shells are easy to spot washed up on the beaches and you may be able to spot pacific oysters in the intertidal zone around the estuary.
Other species are sometimes hard to spot and can be very similar to native species.
What impacts are INNS having locally?
Some INNS such as slipper limpets and pacific oysters are causing significant impacts to key underwater habitats by actively competing with native species. Slipper limits have been identified as causing issues to maerl as they increase sediment in the water column making it difficult for maerl to photosynthesise.
These new comers can also impact on our enjoyment of the water by blocking inlet valves and creating sharp surfaces in previous soft sea beds (pacific oysters creating reefs in soft sediments).
What you can do
There are ways you can reduce the chances of spreading INNS. This guidance is particularly relevant if you are able to bring your vessel out of the water. For more information, please click here.
Falmouth Harbour is part of a multi-agency committee that seeks to continually improve the effectiveness of response to emergencies including oil pollution.
The Standing Committee for Pollution and Emergency Response meets quarterly for the purpose of maintaining up to date response plans and the planning and management of exercises.
Videos showing previous pollution response exercises are publicly available from our YouTube channel.
What are the impacts of hull cleaning on the local marine environment?
We put anti foul coatings on our boats to prevent or reduce colonisation by marine animals. The majority of anti fouls work by releasing biocides which are toxic to marine life. Some anti fouls release Copper which is known to have an impact on marine life in a number of ways. Performing hull cleaning using a pressure washer or scraping removes a lot of anti foul at the same time. This will cause pollution if let escape into the water.
Can I clean my hull within the harbour?
It is common practice to wash down boats and reapply anti foul on an annual basis or similar to reduce fouling. This practice removes the fouling and a lot of the anti foul coating along with it. If this enters the water it will pollute and harm marine organisms.
This anti foul coating needs to be contained and not allowed to enter the water again as it causes significant pollution to both the water column and the sediments below it.
Falmouth Haven and other marinas and boat yards around the estuary offer a full capture hull washing service where the washings are caught and the pollutants removed & disposed of to prevent pollution. It is no longer allowed to pressure wash or scrape boats without using a method to contain the within the harbour as this would cause pollution and contravene the Environmental Permitting Regulations 2016.
When preparing your hull take care with the flakes of paint coming from the hull. These need to be caught in some way and not allowed into the water. Further guidance can be found here from Clean Sailors and here from Green Blue.