Boaters: Remember to “clean, drain and dry” before heading home
Posted March 25, 2021
Help prevent spread of aquatic invasive species
PHOENIX — Arizona’s mild winter weather is a perfect time for boaters to get out and cruise the state’s waterways.
But before trailering that vessel and heading home, the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) wants to ensure that boaters aren’t transporting any aquatic invasive species (AIS). AZGFD, along with authorized contractors, is offering free inspections and decontamination of boats traveling away from waters designated as sources of AIS.
“Watercraft inspection and decontamination programs are extremely effective in preventing the spread of AIS, but we need the public’s cooperation,” said Kate Dukette, aquatic invasive species coordinator. “Having your boat inspected and, if necessary, decontaminated is critical in stopping the spread of mussels and AIS into other bodies of water.”
Whether a boater lives in Arizona, or is visiting from another state, helping to stop the spread of AIS is the responsibility of everyone working together to protect and keep the state’s waterways clean. In fact, traveling across state lines with AIS can result in fines, quarantines and even impoundments. Decontamination is required for watercraft that have been exposed to quagga mussel-infested waters for six or more consecutive days.
AIS are non-native species that are often unintentionally introduced by human movement. They do not have predators outside of their native range and are able to outcompete native species.
They can be animals, plants and even pathogens that cause disease in native fish or other aquatic animals. Often invisible to the naked eye, AIS can be extremely difficult to control. Once introduced, they can alter or destroy ecosystems by interrupting food chains, cause damage to boats or recreational gear, clog water and power infrastructure, and create safety hazards.
To schedule an inspection or decontamination (call two to three weeks in advance):
- Arizona Game and Fish AIS Program: 623-236-7608
- Woods to Water Wildlife Solutions LLC: 602-920-4891
- Katherine Landing (Lake Mohave/Bullhead City): 928-754-3245
- Clean boats, waders, anchors, equipment and gear by removing mud, plants, and attached animals such as snails or quagga mussels. Freeze waders overnight to eliminate fish pathogens and other aquatic hitchhikers.
- Drain all residual water from engines and motors, ballast tanks, live wells and bait wells. Pull the bilge plug and leave it out during transport. Store it in a location where it will be remembered before the next launch, such as beside the boat keys or in the glove box.
- Dry all equipment that comes in contact with water, such as life jackets, ropes, buoys, tubes, etc.
“It is our responsibility to be stewards of the places that we love,” Dukette said. “Stopping the spread of AIS keeps our waters clean and beautiful for ourselves and future generations.”
For more information on aquatic invasive species, visit: www.azgfd.gov/AIS.