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While there is little Lake St. Clair-specific data on the impact of marina development on coastal habitat, a study on the St. Lawrence River indicated that the construction of marinas, wharves and boat launch ramps contributed to the loss of natural environments and biodiversity. A 1991 study identified three types of impacts of marinas: those stemming from the construction of the site, those associated with the effects of the structure and those resulting from the consequences of their operation .
Marina operations can also disturb wildlife species when boating activity is intensive and localized. Moreover, the concentration of a high number of pleasure craft and support services (e.g., restaurants, maintenance) can generate solid and liquid pollutants that can affect the quality of the water and sediments near or within harbor areas, inasmuch as septic tanks are not emptied as per regulations. In Lake St. Clair, portions of the connecting channels and certain other sheltered portions of the Great Lakes nearshore waters are important resting and feeding areas for migrating waterfowl. Recreational boaters can flush and otherwise disturb flocks of resting and feeding birds, causing them to unnecessarily expend energy needed for migration, survival and reproduction. They can also force them to seek less favorable feeding and resting habitat or to alter their migratory schedules. To help relieve this stress, recreational boating is restricted seasonally in substantial portions of Lake St. Clair, which have been declared refuges for migrating waterfowl.
For more information, see: Coastal Habitat Plan, Section V (PDF)