Marinas provide many boaters with a place for fuel, repairs, docking and storage. But the construction of a marina can involve significant alteration of shorelines and wetlands, as well as destruction of underwater habitat. 

Under CRC rules, a marina is any publicly or privately owned dock, basin or wet boat storage facility built to accommodate more than 10 boats and providing permanent or temporary docking space, dry stack storage, haul-out facilities or repair services. 

To receive a CAMA permit, your marina must meet the general CAMA rules for coastal wetlands, estuarine waters and public trust areas as well as the specific rules below. [Boat ramps are exempt from these standards if they allow only access to the water (temporary docking) and offer none of the services above.] See {15A NCAC 7H .0208(b)(5)}:

    • Marinas should be built in non-wetland sites or in deep waters that don't require dredging. They must not disturb valuable shallow-water or wetland habitats, except for dredging necessary for access to high-ground sites. Marinas should be designed to protect the environment as much as possible. The following are four alternatives for siting marinas, ranked in order of Coastal Resources Commission preference:

      • An upland site that requires no alteration of wetlands or other estuarine habitats and has adequate water circulation to prevent the accumulation of sediment and pollutants in boat basins and channels;

      • An upland site that causes no significant damage to fisheries or wetlands and requires dredging for access only;

      • An open water site that doesn't require dredging or wetland alteration and is not a primary nursery area; and

      • An open water site that requires dredging in less productive habitat, but not deeper than any connecting channels
    • Marinas that require dredging may not be in primary nursery areas or in areas that require dredging a channel through nearby primary nursery areas to deeper waters. DCM will consider maintenance dredging in primary nursery areas for existing marinas on a case-by-case basis.

    • Marinas that require dredging must provide acceptable disposal areas to accommodate future maintenance dredging.

    • Marinas may not be enclosed within breakwaters that hinder the water circulation needed to maintain water quality. Breakwaters that obstruct or alter the circulation of estuarine waters can accumulate sediment and pollutants and accelerate erosion on nearby shorelines. This could threaten marine life and public health, and it requires more frequent maintenance dredging.

    • Marinas serving residential developments and built in public trust waters must be limited to 27 square feet of public trust area for every one linear foot of adjacent shoreline. The square-footage limit shall not apply to fairways between parallel piers or any portion of the pier used only for access from land to the docking spaces.

    • Marinas may not be located within areas where shellfish harvest for human consumption is a significant use, or in adjacent areas, if the proposed marina will cause closure of the harvest areas. Construction or enlargement of a marina must not lead to the closure of an open shellfishing area.

    • Marinas should minimize interference with public waters by using a mixture of dry storage areas, public launching facilities and docking spaces.

    • Marinas may not be built without written confirmation that the proposed location is not subject to a submerged lands lease or deed. (State law requires that marina owners receive an easement from the State Property Office.)

    • Marina basins must be designed to promote flushing: Basin and channel depths should gradually increase toward open water and must not be deeper than connecting waters. When possible, an opening shall be provided at opposite ends of the basin to promote flow-through circulation.

    • Marinas must be designed to minimize adverse effects on boat traffic, federally maintained channels and public rights to use and enjoy state waters.

    • Marinas must meet all applicable requirements for stormwater management.

    • Boat maintenance areas must be designed so that all scraping, sandblasting and painting is over dry land and so that pollutants such as grease, oil, paint and sediments do not flush into estuarine waters. Grease and sediment traps can protect water quality at the marina and throughout the estuarine system.

    • Marinas shall post a notice prohibiting the discharge of waste from boat toilets and explaining the availability of information on pumpout services. If dumped overboard, marine sewage can present a threat to marine life and public health.

    • Marinas must comply with all other applicable standards for docks and piers, bulkheading, dredging and spoil disposal.

    • Marina replacement may be allowed if all rules are met to the maximum extent practicable.

    • Upland development associated with marinas must comply with coastal shoreline rules, which require that structures with non-water-dependent uses be located at least 30 feet from the water, unless the structures are located in a designated urban waterfront.