BOATsmart! USA Knowledge Base

Module 04 - Safe Responsible Boat Operation

Information Placards and Waste Management Plans


Depending on the length of your boat, you may be required to display the following signage on board:

Oil Placard:

Boats over 26 feet in length that are operating on federal waters must have an Oil Placard on display. This placard must be in a visible location so that passengers can reference it for the oil discharge laws. The Oil Placard must be at least 5x8 inches in size and must display the following message:

‘Discharge of Oil Prohibited':

The Federal Water Pollution Control Act prohibits the discharge of oil or oily waste upon or into any navigable waters of the U.S. This prohibition includes any discharge that causes a film or discoloration of the surface of the water, or causes a sludge or emulsion beneath the surface of the water. Violators are subject to substantial civil and/or criminal sanctions, including fines and imprisonment.’ 

Garbage Disposal Placard:

If your boat is over 26 feet in length and you’re operating on federal waters, you must also display a Garbage Disposal Placard or ‘Save Our Seas’ placard. These placards must be at least 4x9 inches in size and describe the rules for discarding waste offshore.



Waste Management Plan:

If your boat is over 40 feet in length, it has sleeping and/or cooking compartments and it’s meant to be operated more than 3 miles away from shore, it will also require a Waste Management Plan. This document must be written, made visible and put into action by the boat captain. The information on the waste management plan must include:

  • The boat’s name and port.
  • The procedure for the disposal of food waste.
  • The procedure for the disposal of cans, bottles and plastics.
  • The procedure for the disposal of sewage and other dangerous substances.

Download a free Waste Management Plan Form here!


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