Aquatic Stewardship Education in Theory and Practice

Measures of Aquatic Stewardship Behavior from the Boating Perspective

Andrew J. Loftus


Abstract.—In 2003, more than 69 million people participated in recreational boating in the United States. The tenet that boating activity leads to higher aquatic stewardship ethics is often assumed since heightened environmental sensitivity has been correlated with significant positive contact with the outdoors. However, a direct link between boating and stewardship has not been substantiated. A review of current outreach efforts suggests that measures of boating-related stewardship could include preventing petroleum-based pollution, reducing marine debris, reducing sewage discharges, reducing air pollution, reducing habitat disturbance and physical destruction, and utilizing less harmful chemicals for boating activities. Measures of positive stewardship could also include boater’s involvement in, and support of, government programs and funding that promote these on-the-water behaviors. While these behaviors could be considered outward signs of good stewardship ethics, the motivation behind them would be more difficult to assess, thereby complicating the distinction between actual stewardship and behavior motivated by other forces. However, to the natural resources manager, motivation may not be as important as the resulting behavior, as long as the desired behaviors are sustained over time. A review of behaviors being promoted by the boating community (and applied examples), their utility as measures of aquatic stewardship, and the role of motivations are discussed.