A wide variety of EU environmental legislation applies to the boating industry and its users. From industrial emissions to the protection of biodiversity, recycling, waste disposal, restrictions on chemicals used in the building process and water quality, all environmental legislation needs to be assessed to determine the appropriate measures to be taken during the manufacturing process, navigation and eventual disposal of the boat at its end-of-life.

Recreational boating is sometimes considered a major source of pollution to the marine environment due to its high visibility on lakes and along the coast. This is far from the case, however, as boating actually accounts for less than 1% of overall pollution affecting the marine environment (compared to almost 80% originating from land-based activities). In fact, boating is dependent on good environmental quality for the enjoyment of participants and many national boating industry associations across Europe have adopted voluntary programmes with practical measures to prevent pollution and protect the environment.

To find out more about the environmental impact of boating, take a look at the European Confederation of Nautical Industries’ 2009 study, ‘Nautical Activities: What impact on the environment?’.


Our main areas of work include:

Boat’s end-of-life

Problem recognised

In November 2016, the European Commission published its study on the Nautical Tourism, with the contributions and support of European Boating Industry, where the Commission listed the "end of use" boats as one of the main challenges for the nautical industry which might pose a threat to the environment and a recycling challenge.

The study confirms that the yachts' average lifespan has been estimated at 30 years, although in some instances this may stretch to 40-45 years. This lifespan has further increased over time due to the use of stronger materials, such as fibre reinforced polymer (FRP), 'reinforced plastic'. It is thought that between 1% and 2% of the 6 million boats kept in Europe, in other words at least 80,000 boats, reach their 'end of use' each year. However, only around 2,000 of those are dismantled.

You can read the full study 'Assessment of the impact of business development improvements around nautical tourism'.


Boat DIGEST dismantling map

On 23 September 2015, European Boating Industry hosted the final Boat DIGEST conference in Brussels, which presented the general overview on the end-of-life boats (ELB) and the main project outcomes. While challenges are still remaining, especially when it comes to financing models of dismantling ELBs, the Boat DIGEST project gave more visibility to the work carried out in Belgium, France, Italy, Spain, Turkey and UK (consortium of 9 partners from these countries). As the inititative's main activities have been to identify boat dismantling locations and practices in those countries in order to understand the common problems, accidents and hazards that can be encountered in Europe.

After studying key issues relevant to recreational craft owners related to ELBs and analysing training needs for dismantlers in the past months, Boat DIGEST has come up with four sets of "Guidelines" targeted to marinas, associations, schools, repair and refit companies. The "Guidelines" (available in English, French, Italian, Spanish and Turkish) target various audiences: boaters and nautical associations, marinas and leisure harbours, repair & refit companies, and boating schools. They also offer information on the actions that can be taken by these four groups and the role they play in raising boat owners’ awareness about the issue. They can be freely distributed to all interested parties, as long as they are not modified in their current format.

Boat DIGEST also developed an online and free of charge training course for the professional staff working at waste management facilities and having to treat boats. The training contains 4 units covering administrative, financial and practical issues. An online test verifies the dismantlers' knowledge and if over 70% of answers are correct, a certificate is issued by University of Strathclyde (Glasgow, Scotland), one of the project partners. Another useful outcome is the regularly updated dismantling network map which helps identify and locate professional dismantling sites in Europe.

The above-mentioned and other tools, such as an awareness raising module for users, educational videos or posters are all accessible via www.boatdigest.eu

You can see a boat dismantling network map created by the project.

Paris Nautic 2015Mirna speaking on stage

On 8 December 2015, the conference “Boat’s end-of-life, truly the end?” was held at the Nautic – Paris International Boat Show - jointly organised by European Boating Industry, the French federation FIN and Reed Exposition. The event gathered a large audience made of exhibitors, companies, visitors and public authorities eager to learn more about the current approaches to boat dismantling across the world and discuss how to make this activity viable in the long term.

Watch the video spot.

 CO2 emissions from ships

The “MRV – Monitoring, Reporting and Verification” Regulation 2015/757 was published in the EU Official Journal on 1 July 2015 and will become operational in 2018. It was a result, among others, of a strategy for integrating maritime emissions into the EU’s policy for reducing its domestic greenhouse gas emissions that had been set out by the European Commission in 2013. This Regulation was also supposed to accelerate the works of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), taking place at the international level. However, as the latest 71th session of the Marine Environment Protection committee (MEPC71) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in London shows, these parallel international discussions have not been very effective so far.

The main points relevant to the boating industry are the scope (encompassing vessels from 5,000 GT up) and the focus on CO2 emissions. European Boating Industry has been involved on the works on this file since certain leisure vessels fall under scope of this new Regulation.

The deal between the EU institutions resulted in maintaining in the legislation the changes that European Boating Industry had proposed and supported. Namely, it means that ship operators will only have to report on the carbon dioxide emissions (CO2), with other greenhouse gases such as nitrogen oxides (NOx) not being included in the legislation. The requirements are also limited to the biggest emitters, i.e. all vessels over 5,000 gross tons on voyages to, from and between EU ports. Fishing vessels, warships, naval auxiliaries, wooden ships of a primitive build, ships not propelled by mechanical means and government ships used for non-commercial purposes will be excluded. It means that megayachts of 5,000 GT and more will be included. These are estimated to be around 20-25 vessels worldwide.

Fresh water & marine environment

Adopted in 2000, the Water Framework Directive 2000/60/EC establishes an integrated, ecosystem-based approach to the protection of water. It applies to all water bodies, including rivers, estuaries, coastal waters, canals and docks. The original target for achieving good status was 2015, but further deadlines are set for 2021 and 2027.

In a similar vein, the EU’s Marine Strategy Framework Directive 2008/56/EC aims to achieve good environmental status of marine waters in Europe by 2020, whilst also trying to maximize the economic potential of the seas and oceans. The Directive was adopted in 2008 and the areas of interest for the boating industry include marine litter, underwater noise, non-indigenous species introduced by human activities, biodiversity, and human-induced eutrophication.

European Boating Industry is a member of PIANC’s Navigation Task Group on Water Framework Directive & Marine Strategy Directive. The Navigation Task Group is a thematic cluster of 14 organisations representing a wide variety of commercial and recreational, maritime and inland navigation interests.

To find out more, please visit the PIANC website.

Marine protected areas & the Natura 2000 network

Natura 2000 is a network of nature protected areas, which lies at the heart of the Habitats and Birds Directives. Natura 2000 sites are designated to ensure the survival of Europe’s most valuable and threatened species and habitats and currently cover approximately 20% of Europe’s land area and surrounding seas. Whilst human activities are not completely excluded from Natura 2000 sites, activities are limited to ensure the sustainable use of the area and to safeguard biodiversity. Natura 2000 also covers the marine environment. The development of the Natura 2000 network and its marine component is of interest to the boating industry due to the potential impact on water based recreational activities and navigation.

You can have a look at the report on the progress in establishing marine protected areas on the progress in establishing marine protected areas, published by the European Commission in 2015.