Many states are beginning a proactive approach to enforce laws that many boaters may not even be aware of. The effort aims to assure that boaters do not accidentally spread Eurasian water-milfoil, zebra mussels, and other aquatic invasive species to other bodies of water. Inspectors will be stationed at various bodies of water to help boaters understand invasive species laws and what they must do before leaving that body of water.
Aquatic nuisance species (ANS) are non-indigenous species that threaten the diversity or abundance of native aquatic species. Two such ANS are the Zebra mussel and the Quagga mussel. Great Lakes water users spend tens of millions of dollars on zebra mussel control every year. Zebra mussel infestations cause pronounced ecological changes in the Great Lakes and major rivers of the central United States.
Non-indigenous aquatic nuisance plants, such as purple loosestrife, Eurasian water milfoil, giant salvinia and hydrilla quickly establish themselves. Environmental and economic problems caused by the dense growth of these weeds include impairment of water-based recreation, navigation, flood control, water quality and fish and wildlife habitat.
Invasive species can crowd out native species, disrupt lake ecosystems, and interfere with boating, fishing and other recreation. The main way that invasive species and fish diseases such as viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS) spread to new waters is aboard boating and fishing equipment, boat trailers, water in livewells and live fish being moved from one water body to another.
Boaters, anglers, and others enjoying the waters of many states are required to:
- Drain all water from vehicles, trailers, watercraft, containers, fishing equipment, and gear when leaving any state waters or its shores.
- Do not take live fish away from any lake or its shores. A fish is considered dead when it is no longer in water. This law applies to shore anglers as well as those who fish from a boat.
- Remove all aquatic plants, animals and mud from watercraft, trailers and vehicles before leaving a landing for the day. Do not transport a vehicle, boat, boat trailer, equipment, or gear of any type on a public highway which has an aquatic plant or animal attached to the exterior.
- Use minnows left over after a fishing trip again on the same water OR on any other waters if no lake or river water, or other fish was added to their container.
Please consult with your state marine patrol and local marinas to identify non-indigenous species in your area. For more information on Impacts of Aquatic Non-indigenous Species, visit http://www.protectyourwaters.net/impacts.php