DEC: Keeping boats clean is crucial to preventing invasive species in local waterways
As this year’s boating season officially kicks off, Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Basil Seggos reminds water recreation enthusiasts to do their part to protect New York’s waters from invasive aquatic species by remembering to clean, drain and dry personal watercraft and equipment.
Last year, boater traffic increased nearly 20 percent at some launches and flight attendants counted more than 390,000 boats at launches across the state, a significant increase from the 276,515 boats counted in 2019. DEC predicts that more of them an increased risk of introducing ISA into New York waters. Taking proactive measures such as cleaning fishing gear, removing aquatic vegetation from rudders, disinfecting boat hulls and water compartments, and proper disposal of bait significantly reduces this risk.
“Aquatic invasive species like zebra mussels, prickly water fleas, hydrillas and the like can be easily transported from one body of water to another on boats, trailers and fishing gear,” said Commissioner Seggos. “Protecting New York’s waters is a priority for DEC. Our lakes and ponds are invaluable in providing habitat for wildlife, supporting our state’s fishing and fishing industry, and providing recreational opportunities.
In recent years, CED has expanded its coverage of boat stewards through the Personal Watercraft Inspection Stewardship Program, reaching out to other boaters with the Clean, Drain, Dry message. Flight attendants demonstrate how to perform boat and trailer inspections before embarking on a new body of water and provide basic facts about AIS. In 2020, DEC boat managers spoke with more than 30,000 boaters who were unfamiliar with the boat steward program. These stewards also intercepted more than 19,000 AIS on boats and equipment, including hydrids, which were removed from boats heading for Lake Champlain and Lake Ontario. Existing hydrilla infestations in Cayuga, Erie, Tioga, Tompkins and Westchester counties are currently costing New Yorkers more than $ 1 million per year in control and mitigation.
“Last fall, we opened the new boat launch at Otisco Lake. We are delighted that this is one of more than 200 sites participating in the New York State Personal Watercraft Inspection Program, ”said Matthew Marko, DEC Region 7 director. “We ask all recreation enthusiasts to clean, drain and dry their watercraft and equipment to help protect New York’s waters.”
“The Finger Lakes Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management (PRISM) is eager to provide education and awareness on the new Lake Otisco launch and hopes to reach more new boaters,” said Hilary Mosher, Coordinator , Finger Lakes PRISM.
To help protect New York’s lakes, ponds, rivers and streams, visit DEC website for more information on AIS and a step by step guide to clear boats and equipment of AIS. Today, DEC also released a new statewide Public Service Announcement (PSA) reminding boaters to clean, drain and dry their boats in order to protect state waters.
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