Boaters Urged to Limit Spread of Invasive Species

Zebra mussel on native mussel. The zebra mussel was inadvertently introduced to the United States and is now spreading rapidly, impacting native fish species, as well as clogging power plant intakes. Boaters, anglers, and waterfowl hunters can help prevent further spread of zebra mussels. Photo/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Zebra mussel on native mussel. The zebra mussel was inadvertently introduced to the United States and is now spreading rapidly, impacting native fish species, as well as clogging power plant intakes. Boaters, anglers, and waterfowl hunters can help prevent further spread of zebra mussels. Photo/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

By now most boaters are aware of the damage caused by invasive freshwater zebra mussels. The tiny bivalves, which first arrived in the Great Lakes, have spread to New England waters, where they are causing lots of environmental damage.

The following are ways in which anglers and boaters can help prevent the spread of zebra mussels and other invasive plants and animals.

Before leaving a boat launch:

  • Clean: all visible plant, fish, and animals as well as mud or other debris. Do not transport them home.
  • Drain: all water from every space and item that may hold water.

At home or prior to your next launch:

  • Dry: anything that comes in contact with water (boats, trailers, anchors, propellers, etc.) for a minimum of 1 week during hot/dry weather or a minimum of 4 weeks during cool/wet weather.
  • If drying is not possible, you must clean your boat prior to the next launch.

The techniques listed below are for decontaminating your vessel:

  • Wash your boat with hot, pressurized water.
  • Dip equipment in 100% vinegar for 20 minutes prior to rinsing.
  • Wash with a 1% salt solution (2/3 cup to 5 gallons water) and leave on for 24 hours prior to rinsing.
  • “Wet” with bleach solution (1 oz. to 1 gallon water) or soap and hot water (Lysol, boat soap, etc.) for 10 minutes prior to rinsing.

When Fishing:

  • Do not dump your bait bucket or release live bait. Avoid introducing unwanted plants and animals.  Unless your bait was obtained on site, dispose of it in a suitable trash container or give it to another angler.
  • Do not transport fish, other animals or plants between water bodies. Release caught fish, other animals and plants only into the waters where they were caught.