Statewide program celebrates pro-active efforts in Seward to protect Alaska’s marine environment
SEWARD, AK – After two years of working with Alaska Clean Harbors, the ACH Advisory Committee certified the Seward Small Boat Harbor as an Alaska Clean Harbor. The ACH Advisory Committee, the certifying body for the program, includes representatives from Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program, Alaska Dept. of Environmental Conservation, Alaska Dept. of Natural Resources, Cook Inletkeeper, Green Star, Marine Exchange of Alaska, NOAA’s Restoration Center, and the Alaska Association of Harbormasters and Port Administrators.
Alaska Clean Harbors is a voluntary program providing valuable pollution prevention tools for local communities to protect the marine resources that support coastal economies. Through participation in the program, harbormasters complete a self-evaluation and are scored on 88 best management practices (BMP) related to pollution prevention and waste management for their facility. Harbor staff then work with ACH to improve their score and meet program criteria by implementing new BMP, leading to substantial long-term cost savings, an improved commitment to pollution prevention, increased waste reduction, and ongoing promotion of clean boating. Currently ACH only works with facilities that have permanent moorage for boaters. At this time, boatyards, cruiseship docks, and other loading-type facilities are not included. Seward Harbor employee Matt Chase spearheaded the Seward Harbor application process, with the support of Harbormaster Mack Funk and harbor staff. Highlighted in their application is the Seward Harbor used oil program and commitment to managing waste streams around the harbor.
All used oil is burned to heat four city shops, used anti-freeze is exchanged with Emerald Alaska for products used in city equipment, and contaminated bilge water goes through oil-water separation so that the oil can be recycled and the water can be disposed of properly. The Seward Harbor has worked hard in recent years to provide customers, contractors, and others using the harbor with the best management practices that are required to be implemented when doing work at the harbor. Staff are enthusiastically looking ahead to opportunities to reach out to the community and increase positive boater relations with the harbor, including during the 2012 Harbor Opening Day festivities in May.
Mack Funk, Seward Harbormaster, recently came to Seward from Oak Harbor Marina in Washington, a certified Clean Marina through a similar process in Washington State. Mack says of Seward’s Clean Harbor certification, “The Seward Harbor has been working for a number of years to achieve this distinction. We are especially proud of our waste oil recycling system. Under the leadership of Matt Chase we will continue to make environmental improvements.” Advisory Committee member Alan Sorum (member-at-large) said of their efforts, “Seward … has been a leader in developing best environmental practices for harbor management. They helped with the initial discussions at the Alaska Association of Harbormasters and Port Administrators on starting the Clean Harbors Program.
[We’re] glad to see the involvement and support.” Rachel Lord, coordinator for Alaska Clean Harbors, says there is a lot of enthusiasm for the program around the state. “We’re looking forward to working with the boating fleets in certified clean harbors around the state. The commitment made by harbor to become certified Clean Harbors opens the door to improving services to all boating fleets so that everyone can have tools on-hand to protect the marine environment on which we all depend. Alaska Clean Harbors provides assistance on pollution prevention practices for harbor staff and for boaters to ensure a productive marine environment for future generations.”
Rachel Lord will present the Seward Harbor with their award at the March 12, 2012 City Council meeting in Seward. More information about Alaska Clean Harbors can be found at their website: www.alaskacleanharbors.org###