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:

 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.