Washington Boating Safety Course


The Refuse Act of 1899 prohibits throwing, discharging, or depositing of any refuse matter of any kind into United States waters. Refuse includes garbage, trash, oil, and other liquid pollutants.

Vessels greater than 26 feet and operating in federal waters must display a 5x8-inch placard in a clearly visible place that states the following:


Therefore, boat operators are not allowed to dump oil into the bilge of their boat without means for proper disposal. Oil must be kept on board in a receptacle until it can be properly disposed. If oil is discharged accidentally, call 800-424-8802 to report the accident to the Coast Guard.

Penalties and Fines

The U.S. Coast Guard is responsible for the enforcement of antipollution regulations. Civil penalties can be as great as $25,000 and criminal penalties include imprisonment for up to five years and fines up to $50,000, or both.

An officer may issue a Notice of Violation for occurrences of small oil discharges of under 100 gallons and minor violations of pollution regulations.