Boating Oil Spills Can Be Wiped Out With Education, Says Study By Los Angeles Sustainability Collaborative

Boating is a popular pastime in sunny Southern California, but it comes at a high price. It's also a cause of major oil contamination along the region's beaches. 

According to a recent report produced by the Los Angeles Sustainability Collaborative, there is a solution to this problem -- proactive education.

"We identified a root cause to the issue of daily oil spills and leaks in recreational boats and that is a lack of a mandated education requirement in California," said Colleen Callahan, director of research and programs at LASC.

According to the "Soak It Up" study's survey of 2,778 boaters, 97 percent reported seeing leaks every time or most of the time they operated their vessels. And those boaters that are trained in good boating practices implement them at a much higher rate.

But knowledge of what to do with oil leakage is not mandatory for recreational boaters in California, leaving many unaware of environmental best practices. 

LASC argues that the advantages of educational certification go beyond the protection of natural resources, as training could include other safety aspects as well. 

"Certainly there would be other benefits to having that requirement, not just environmental issues," said Callahan. "There are over 40 other states that have it."

LASC provides fellowships to graduate students to conduct studies like this one. The collaborative has also produced another study on oil, "Crude Awakenings: Ten Years Later," which explores the negative effects of larger scaled disasters on a macro level. 

As for next steps, Callahan says they're looking to spread the word about this study and coordinate real change. 

"We want to get these findings out," said Callahan. "Now we're focused on building a coalition of people who are interested in preventing oil spills from boating in California and beyond."

Click here to download "Soak It Up" and "Crude Awakenings: Ten Years Later."