The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has a message for everyone taking to the water this holiday weekend, and throughout the summer boating season: Clean your boats, trailers and equipment before and after use to prevent the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species in Michigan.
Boats can unintentionally and easily spread invasive species from one body of water to another, but most of these situations are avoidable by following a few, simple steps:
Clean boats, trailers and equipment before you launch and again after.
Drain water from bilges and livewells at the ramp before leaving.
Dry trailers, boats, equipment and storage areas thoroughly before using them in a different body of water.
Dispose of unused bait in the trash.
Don’t transfer live fish to water bodies, other than where they were originally caught.
Disinfect livewells and bilges with a bleach solution comprised of one-half cup of bleach to 5 gallons of water.
Michigan laws prohibit placing a boat, trailer or other boating equipment into state waters with plant material attached. Plant hitchhikers can easily be brought from water to water unseen on axles, insides of wheels and fenders. This includes jet-skis, kayaks, fishing boats of all sizes, up to the largest yachts. Taking such steps and help prevent the spread of invasives like milfoil, zebra and quagga mussels, gobies and other foreign invaders to Michigan's inland lakes and streams, and to lakes in other states as well. So far, scientists have counted more than 100 invasives that have sen brought in to Michigan waters on ships and other watercraft.
For more information on the importance of cleaning boats and equipment to prevent aquatic invasive species, check out the video on this page, created by the Michigan Sea Grant program.