As boaters, we all have a responsibility to protect our waterways from invasive species. These harmful organisms can wreak havoc on the ecosystem, outcompeting native species and causing damage to water infrastructure. To prevent the spread of invasive species, it’s important to take the following steps before setting sail:
1. Clean your boat. Before launching your boat, give it a good scrub down. Use soap and water to clean the hull, deck, and any other surfaces that may have come into contact with water. Pay special attention to areas where water can collect, such as the anchor locker and bilge.
2. Drain your boat. Make sure to drain all water from your boat, including the bilge and livewell. This will help to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species that may be lurking in the water.
3. Dry your boat. Allow your boat to dry completely before launching it. Invasive species can survive in moist environments, so it’s important to make sure your boat is completely dry before it comes into contact with any water.
4. Dispose of bait properly. Never dump leftover bait or live fish into the water. Instead, dispose of it in the trash. This will help to prevent the spread of invasive species that may be present in your bait.
5. Use local firewood. If you plan to camp overnight, make sure to use firewood that was sourced locally. Insects that bore into wood, such as emerald ash borer, can hitchhike on firewood and be transported to new areas.
6. Check your trailer. Before leaving the boat launch, inspect your trailer for any aquatic plants or animals that may have hitched a ride. Use a high-pressure hose to wash down the trailer and remove any debris.
By following these simple steps, we can all do our part to prevent the spread of invasive species. Remember, protecting our waterways is a team effort, and together we can make a difference.