Boaters can help keep invasive species out of area
As waters warm with the arrival of summer, the threat of aquatic invasive species grows.
Boaters can help protect state waters – and avoid potential fines – by following a few simple precautions, said Allen Pleus, state Department of Fish and Wildlife aquatic invasive-species coordinator.
To protect Washington waters, all watercraft should be cleaned, drained and dried before launch and after leaving the water for a new destination. Transporting aquatic invasive species is illegal in Washington, with a potential fine of $500 plus decontamination costs for violations.
“These precautions are critical in preventing the spread of invasive species,” Pleus said in a news release. “Many invasive species are easily seen, such as attached mussels and aquatic plants, but many others are not – such as juvenile mussels, plant spores, and fish and shellfish diseases.”
Since May 1, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife found invasive species on three boats stopped at mandatory checkpoints. A boat inspected in Central Point, Ore., had quagga mussels likely brought from Lake Havasu, Arizona. The other boats were checked in La Grande and contained zebra mussels. One had been in Saginaw Bay, Mich., and the other was a barge used on the Mississippi River.
Cleaning and draining watercraft immediately after leaving a water body will prevent accidental spread of invasive species on the ride home as well as avoiding potential fines, Pleus said.
Anyone bringing a boat or other aquatic equipment into the state must follow certification procedures if the craft has been in a water known to be infested with zebra or quagga mussels. Certification of inspection – and certification of decontamination if zebra or quagga mussels are found – is required before entering Washington.
Most states with zebra or quagga mussel infestations provide information on approved vendors that offer inspection and decontamination services. Decontamination requirements for Washington require that all zebra or quagga mussels – including empty shells – be removed from exterior and interior surfaces.
Boats aren’t the only equipment that need careful attention to prevent the spread of aquatic invaders. Stemming aquatic invasive species is the responsibility of everyone who uses Washington waters, including anglers. Waders, floats, bait buckets, nets and anything else that touches the water offers a place for aquatic invasive species to hitchhike.
The state fish and wildlife agency works with other aquatic invasive-species managers and interested parties through the Washington State Invasive Species Council (invasivespecies.wa.gov/index.shtml
) and is participating in regional and national efforts to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. Those efforts include the “Protect Your Waters” campaign (protectyourwaters.net
) and the 100th Meridian Initiative (100thmeridian.org
For more information on aquatic invasive species, visit wdfw.wa.gov/ais/youcanhelp.html
. To report an aquatic invasive-species sighting, request a free inspection, or request information on aquatic invasive-species contacts in other states, please call toll-free 888-933-9247.
What BOATERS can do
Boaters are asked to take the following steps before launching or moving their boat to another destination:
Clean: Remove any visible plants, dirt or animal life from boats, motors, trailers, boots and other personal gear and equipment.
Drain: Pull the plug to release lake or stream water at the source from fish wells, wakeboard ballast tanks and bait buckets (put bait in the garbage).
Dry: Rinse equipment in fresh potable water and dry, or allow to dry, before the next use.