Using a $1,000 grant from the Morro Bay National Estuary Program, commercial fishermen in Morro Bay have purchased two environmentally friendly boat sanders.
The sanders are attached to high-powered vacuums that capture up to 98 percent of the sanders dust. The equipment is available to any boat owner wanting to perform maintenance of their vessel while it is in the water.
Paint on boats often contains copper, lead, zinc and other heavy metals that are toxic to wildlife in the bay.
Since there has been some sanding going on in the bay, this will be a positive step towards reducing pollution in the estuary, and it gives the community an opportunity to come together on a beneficial project for all, said Tom Hafer, president of the Morro Bay Commercial Fishermens Organization.
The sanders are available for use free of charge at the Morro Bay Harbor Department. Users will have to purchase a vacuum bag for $5.
Hull scraping, sanding and painting are often conducted at the docks in Morro Bay because the harbor does not have a haul-out for larger vessels. Boat owners are reluctant to travel to other, larger harbors that do have large boat haul-outs, Hafer said.
Funding for the sanders came from the estuary programs community grants program, which helps projects by local groups to help keep the estuary clean, said Adrienne Harris, the estuary programs executive director.