Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers offers tips for boaters to prevent the spread of invasive species

There are increasingly long lines at boat inspection stations as municipalities look to thwart the spread of aquatic invasive species, putting more pressure on access to fishing and boating in some parts of the country.

To date, many of the preventive measures seeking to slow down the spread of invasive species like zebra mussels have been focused at the boater level, so the American Boat and Yacht Council is trying to help manufacturers design models that make it harder for pests to hitchhike from one body of water to the next.

ABYC issued a report on Tuesday issuing new standards and best practices, with the idea that if manufacturers can tweak certain elements of design, boats and components could be better equipped to slow down the spread of invasive species.

The report also would make boats better equipped to handle decontamination, which involves flushing systems with 120-degree water.

“Most of the effort has been focused on the end user, but this focused on the industry,” Brian Goodwin, technical director at ABYC, told Trade Only Today. “We’re telling them considerations to keep in mind — what happens in inspection, decontamination, and best practices for designing boats or systems or engines and trailers.”

In 2015, ABYC held a summit with marine manufacturers and the resource management community to discuss aquatic invasive species and come up with creative ways to stop their spread on the front end.

That helped the management community understand the challenges boatbuilders were having while helping boatbuilders determine small changes that could be made to reduce the amount of residual water in livewells or ballast tanks, for example.

Ballast tanks get filled with water and then pumped out, so all of the aquatic invasive species, often in the form of microscopic larvae, move from lake to lake, Goodwin said.

“One of the concerns is access to certain areas,” said Goodwin. “There’s a lot of focus on quagga mussels and zebra mussels, but the reality is that you don’t know what’s next. It could be an aquatic type weed, which can have a very negative effect on fishing.

“The whole idea of this report is to get manufacturers to take more notice and reach a much broader audience in the industry,” said Goodwin.

Check out the report here, and learn more about how to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species here.

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