This question lists the principles of Leave No Trace, taken from the Center for Outdoor Ethics website.

While the general principals apply to many types of outdoor activities, this particular set seems geared toward land-related activities.

Of course all are true no matter who or where you are, or what you're doing, including boating. However, boats and those who use them also have some unique challenges in terms of leaving no trace. I'm thinking especially of things like water and air pollution; endangerment of water-related animal and plant life, sometimes permanently; human waste removal; making too much noise around other boaters or people on land; interfering with those who are using the waters for things such as swimming or fishing; and others I haven't named. With any challenges come responsibility, so I wondered if there's an equivalent organization or set of ethics provided for boaters to follow.

This would encompass things like

  • boaters and their behavior in general
  • different kinds of boats and their purpose
  • various types of bodies of water
  • boats which are moving, moored, or docked
  • geographical location, which might need to be named specifically if rules vary

Does such an organization or set of principles exist? If so, how can I find the information? It might need to be more than one group in order to cover all the things that concern me. Perhaps it's under the umbrella of the Center for Outdoor Ethics, but if so, I didn't see it.

3 Answers 3


LNT is a brief and easy to understand guideline on principles of how to live in harmony with the outdoors. The principles apply equally to remote back country travel, boating or even picnicking down at the local urban park.

We already have many written rules, where the wording has become more important than the principle that drove the rules. LNT is about teaching people to think and act based in principles rather than words of rule.

The very reason LNT is so important in the first place is because it is not a set of prescriptive rules, but guiding principles. Coming up with a different set of words about how to apply the principles to a new environment would make LNT just another set of (pointless) rules to follow. With so many sets (every activity would demand its own special set of rules) adherents would be able to abdicate responsibility for thinking for themselves by sticking to their carefully selected rule set, making LNT just another point less set of rules.

IMHO A better approach than changing LNT would be to describe how to apply LNT principles to boating (or family picnics or visiting the mall....).

  • 1
    +1 because this addresses the question, but it is too abstract to be really satisfying (to me, at least).
    – ab2
    Feb 7, 2017 at 1:32

America's Boating Club (the US Power Squadron) has a few Squadrons (local clubs) that teach the principles of Leave No Trace in the course of teaching other classes. There are US Coast Guard regulations, but they are pretty black-and-white; the LNT principles are taught (by the Houston Squadron) as part of our paddlecraft education, our basic boater education, etc.

  • 1
    Can you tell us a bit about what they teach? The fact they teach it does not help others with how to act.
    – Willeke
    Oct 2, 2021 at 18:24
  • I'm not sure I understand your question. The 7 Principles are taught in context with the recreational boating activity (for example, Kayaking). Are you asking for how to teach the 7p's ?? or specifically what is addressed in a specific course?
    – Alan Cross
    Oct 3, 2021 at 21:30

Trash is pretty clear.

Biological human waste is pretty clear.

Grey water is grey. Boiled some potatoes. Clean dishes with biodegradable soap or shower with with biodegradable soap. Discharge into the water just like you would discharge into the ground on land.

Gut fish I would discharge to the water. Where in port I would not typically discharge fish guts.


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