The sun was shining overhead as representatives from the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources and Long Beach Harbor gathered on June 13 to raise the new “Clean and Resilient Marina” flag to signify the harbor’s successful efforts in over three years of hard work to earn the designation.  Long Beach Harbor now looks forward to attracting more visiting boaters to and connecting them to the larger onshore business community.  Long Beach Harbor is the fourth marina in Mississippi to earn the designation “Clean and Resilient.”

The Clean and Resilient Marina Initiative is led by the Gulf of Mexico Alliance (GOMA) Coastal Community Resilience Priority Issue Team in partnership with the Clean Marina Task Force that is composed of state agencies from all five Gulf states.  The Clean Marina Program outlines voluntary best management practices that protect coastal water quality. The newer “Clean and Resilient” designation has the added benefit of strengthening a marina’s ability to withstand natural and man-made disasters. To earn the designation, a marina owner/operator must complete a checklist that covers traditional Clean Marina specifications; such as marina management, waste containment and disposal, petroleum control, and sewage handling. The assessment also addresses six new resilience categories: 1) Marina Siting and Design, 2) Emergency Preparedness, 3) Evacuation Procedures, 4) Stormwater Management and Erosion Controls, 5) Climate Adaption and Sea Level Rise, and 6) Outreach and Education for Marina Operators and Boaters.

Marinas are resilient when they prevent loss of life and personal injury, reduce property damage, and have the capacity to resume operations quickly after a storm.  Checklist items under Marina Siting and Design include: conducting soils stability or geotechnical testing before construction or expansion; determining maximum potential wind speeds; identifying prevailing currents; and verifying potential wave height at a site.  Incorporating this knowledge into pre-design or upgrades to berthing and landside facilities, boat storage, mooring, and tie-down strategies translates into reduced losses and faster recovery after a storm event.  Enhanced preparation from Emergency Preparedness checklist items assists marina owners and operators with year-round planning, employee training, and getting boats moved and secured quickly before storms.  Outreach and Boater Education checklist items ensure boaters have the information they need for proper boat cleaning and maintenance while including information on emergency preparedness and evacuation policies in berthing agreements. Reducing environmental stressors to operations from storm water and erosion over time is another way for marinas to be more resilient.  Checklist elements in this section include items requiring erosion and sediment control plans for construction and landscape projects and utilizing “living shorelines,” or natural control and stabilization procedures.

The Clean and Resilient Marinas Guidebook is the resource for marina management interested in completing the checklist.  It provides clear and detailed guidance about the six key resilience issue areas, an example Hurricane Preparedness Plan, and tools and resources for assessing short-term and long-terms risks associated with climate adaption and sea level rise.  The Guidebook was created with input from marina operators and owners across the five Gulf States to maximize its usefulness and relevance.

The Clean and Resilient Marina Initiative helps marinas to thrive by encouraging smart planning, environmentally sound practices, and active communication of emergency procedures to boaters and tenants.  These higher standards, which build off the well-established Clean Marina Program, serve to enhance the resiliency of Gulf Coast communities one marina at a time.

It is easy to become a Clean and Resilient Marina

1)      Pledge
2)      Take the Self-Assessment
3)      Engage State Agency
4)      Certify

The three program guides along with the policy guide and brochure can be found here.

Contributed by Jessica Kuonen, Oregon State University and a National Science Foundation Research Trainee Fellow with the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium.