Victoria (Vicki) Gambale, a former Community Engagement Program Director for The Bay Foundation, part of Santa Monica Bay’s National Estuary Program, has been named Florida Sea Grant’s Clean Vessel Act Education Coordinator.

In her new role, Gambale will work collaboratively with Florida’s recreational boating community to reduce boat-based pollution. Her efforts are currently focused on preventing the discharge of sewage from boats. Given Florida’s rank as a nationwide leader in recreational boating, even a small amount of sewage from a fraction of boats can be harmful to water quality and human health.

So far, Gambale has been working with Florida marinas to collect information on sewage pumpouts, dump stations and mobile pumpout boats in order to populate the Pumpout Nav app. This new mobile tool is designed to empower boaters to keep our waters healthy and clean by showing where the nearest sewage pumpout options are located, and providing educational information on how and why to properly dispose of sewage waste.

“I’m most excited for the growth opportunity and working on a project that will affect the entire state,” Gambale says. “In the future, I’m excited to conduct an analysis to identify where more pumpouts are needed.”

Gambale’s role is made possible by funding through Florida’s Clean Vessel Act Grant Program, housed within the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Established by the 1992 Clean Vessel Act, the federal grant program helps fund eligible pumpout projects statewide, including site preparation, equipment purchase, installation, operations, maintenance, sewage hauling and educational outreach.

Florida Sea Grant Associate Director for Extension and Education Dr. Maia McGuire says, “Vicki came to Florida Sea Grant having experience with both the Pumpout Nav app and the Clean Vessel Act in California, so she’s been able to hit the ground running and is making a strong start at collecting data from Florida marinas.”

Gambale looks forward to future educational programs that will support the adoption of the Pumpout Nav app in Florida’s recreational boating community.

You can’t have healthy ecosystems without good water quality.

Growing up just four blocks from the beach in New Jersey, Gambale decided at a young age she wanted to be a marine biologist, and ultimately help protect the environment. She now holds a B.S. in Marine Biology from Roger Williams University and an M.S. in Fisheries Science from Louisiana State University, and has over a decade of professional experience working on community engagement programs that reduce pollution and improve water quality.

Florida Sea Grant looks forward to seeing Vicki’s programming provide helpful resources to Florida boaters, as well as seeing a difference in our waterways. As Gambale says, “You can’t have healthy ecosystems without good water quality.”

By June 2022, Florida boaters can expect to see pumpout stations appear within the Pumpout Nav app, with the number of entries expected to increase over time.