Boating and shipping operations, their associated activities and supporting infrastructure present a potential for environmental impacts. Such impacts include physical changes to bottom substrate and habitats from sources such as anchoring and mooring and vessel groundings, alterations to the physico-chemical properties of the water column and aquatic biota through the application of antifouling paints, operational and accidental discharges (ballast and bilge water, hydrocarbons, garbage and sewage), fauna collisions, and various other disturbances. Various measures exist to sustainably manage these impacts. In addition to a review of associated boating- and shipping-related environmental impacts, this paper provides an outline of the government- and industry-related measures relevant to achieving positive outcomes in an Australian context. Historically, direct regulations have been used to cover various environmental impacts associated with commercial, industrial, and recreational boating and shipping operations (e.g., MARPOL). The effectiveness of this approach is the degree to which compliance can be effectively monitored and enforced. To be effective, environmental managers require a comprehensive understanding of the full range of instruments available, and the respective roles they play in helping achieve positive environmental outcomes, including the pros and cons of the various regulatory alternatives.
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