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Boat Repair/Maintenance

This activity includes vessel maintenance and repair on land and afloat and hull cleaning.  It includes the consideration of vessels/machinery/vehicles associated with boat repair/maintenance.

Potential Impacts

End of Life Boats

The RYA have been looking into the issue of end of life boats. Most small leisure craft built from the 1970s onwards were constructed from fibre reinforced plastic (FRP), most commonly of glass fibre, or GRP. The boats are highly durable, typically lasting 30–50 years in active use. Vessels using the material include sailing and power boats, but also those with a shorter life that will be scrapped much sooner, such as dinghies and other small craft. As the boats become too expensive to maintain, end-of-life (EOL) disposal is becoming a major issue for boaters, the environment and, when abandoned, for marine life. The number of boats involved is hard to know, given the wide range of types, ages, and patterns of use, but in 2018 British Marine estimated that there were over 1 million boats and watersports craft owned by UK households. Some sources say it’s closer to five million if all craft, such as paddle boards, are included.

Wood and steel hulls in old boats can be managed relatively easily through established recycling routes, as can other metal and wood components on a boat. This is not the case for FRP, which doesn’t easily decompose, though it does physically break down over time. Research undertaken at the University of Brighton has shown that boats made of FRP which are left in the water release microscopic fibres. These particles enter the ecosystem when marine creatures ingest them, and these may then enter the human food chain. There’s also the damage caused by fuel, oil and chemicals from anti-fouling paint and upholstery leaking into the water.

With boats continually reaching their end of life, abandoned boats appears to be a growing issue. To confirm this, the RYA is collecting data on abandoned boats from across the country please report them to the RYA via The Green Blue. All data received will be a valuable indication of the scale of the problem.