If you plan to go out on the water this summer, you should be aware of the new laws regarding aquatic invasive species. According to a news release from Cass County Soil and Water Conservation District it is important to do your part in preventing the spread of invasives by taking the following steps:
• First clean aquatic plants and prohibited invasive species from your watercraft.
• Second, drain lake or river water from all equipment and keep drain plugs out during transport. • Third, dispose of unwanted bait in the trash, not in the water.
This is the law in Minnesota and it is a simple and easy way to protect Minnesota’s waters.
According to a watercraft inspector with Cass County, one of the most common laws people don’t seem to know about are the laws regarding bait. You are required to dispose of bait into the garbage when leaving a lake, unless you replace the bait water with fresh tap water. Remember to have fresh tap water on hand if you want to keep your bait.
A new requirement starting in 2016 is that all newly issued watercraft licenses have an AIS affirmation section. Also effective in March 2016, all nonresident fishing licenses now include this AIS affirmation section. Nonresident fishing license applicants will receive a summary of AIS laws and will be required to affirm that they have read and understand the summary in order to receive their license.
There are no fees associated with this affirmation.
Beginning this boating season, anyone found guilty of violating Minnesota’s AIS laws will have to pay the required fines and complete mandatory online training. This short “Clean In Clean Out” training must be completed before people found guilty of violating Minnesota’s aquatic invasive species laws can legally operate their watercraft anywhere in the state.
Compliance with AIS laws is rising every year, up to 86 percent in 2015 from 77 percent in 2013, and our lakes benefit from that.
Many states including California, Idaho, and Nevada require decals on trailers, with fees ranging from $5-30. In some states, including Nebraska, Wyoming, and Washington, authorities have the right to impound your watercraft if a violation is found, which is not so in Minnesota.
According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, only about 5 percent of Minnesota’s waters have been found to be infested with an invasive species. If that number is so small, how do state and county programs determine which lakes are a priority, and why would they place inspectors at lakes where no AIS have been found?
There will never be enough money to have inspectors everywhere. Lakes may have inspectors if AIS are confirmed in the lake or there is a high risk for AIS being moved to the lake because of high use of that lake. That is why it is imperative that boaters practice “Clean, Drain, and Dry.” States that have implemented education and inspection programs have significantly slowed or even stopped the spread of invasive species.
For more information about aquatic invasive species in Cass County lakes, contact Rima Smith-Keprios at 218-547-7324 or firstname.lastname@example.org.