Boat operators are responsible for understanding the impact and risk of aquatic invasive species (AIS). AIS are organisms (e.g., plants, animals, fish, mollusks, or microbes) that are not native to a particular ecosystem. Once introduced, they quickly reproduce, spread, and displace native species. This causes harm to the environment, economy, human health, clogs waterways and creates hazardous conditions for navigation and recreation.
Typically AIS, such as zebra mussels, quagga mussels, milfoil, and hydrilla, spread between waterways by hitching a ride on vessels or trailers, AIS may be accidentally transported by recreational boaters when caught in propellers or intakes; attached to hulls, gear, and clothing; and introduced via bait transfer when fishing.. The proliferation of these organisms leads to the displacement of native species and the destruction of the aquatic environment when transplanted into new waters.
AIS can damage your boat, foul propellers, jam impellers, and cause bilge pump failure.
To help mitigate the spread of AIS, drain live wells, bilge water, and transom wells before leaving the waterway where you have used your vessel. Clean, drain, and dry your vessel and trailer after removing your boat from the water, especially when moving between different bodies of water.
Boater’s Tip: If you are a boater, you may see different names for non-native species threatening the aquatic environment. The term “aquatic nuisance species” is just another name for AIS. It is crucial to avoid spreading non-native species wherever you are boating, regardless of what they are called. By doing so, you can protect the waterways and the native species that inhabit them.