Arizona’s fight against the invasive quagga mussel needs a little clarification. The Arizona Department of Game and Fish says that despite marketing efforts and enforcement, there are still a number of boaters who don’t feel the need to clean, drain or dry their watercrafts to aid in stopping the spread of the aquatic invasive species in the Colorado River.
The Game and Fish Commission this month called for clarification and more easily-understood phrasing to its regulations on mandatory measures to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.
“Every five years the article of law is reviewed by statute,” said AZGF boating law administrator Tim Baumgarten. “They can make a request for Arizona Game and Fish to look at the problem and see what can be done. There have been some issues with individuals not pulling their plugs or draining their watercraft, and a lack of clarity in regulations to keep those plugs out during transport.”
Quagga mussels have become abundant in Lake Havasu, and have been a nuisance to the city and its boaters since the species was first discovered in Arizona waters 10 years ago.
According to Baumgarten, the recent attention of federal, state and non-governmental agencies on Arizona’s quagga issue has increased awareness on the part of AZGF to combat aquatic invasive species. Quagga mussels, in particular, can adhere to boating surfaces, anchors, and can enter compartments of many watercraft. Failure to drain and clean such watercraft after each boating excursion can increase the chances of spreading those mussels to other bodies of water throughout the Southwest.
The mussels can multiply quickly when introduced to a new habitat, negatively impacting water systems and causing damage to pipelines, dams and water control structures.
Arizona statutes allow the commission to request implementation of proposed rules under its five-year plan, approved by the Governor’s Regulatory Review Council, with the stipulation that those rules alter existing statutes or increase the department’s cost-burden to the state.
• By BRANDON MESSICK Today’s News-Herald – September 19, 2017