Aquatic invasive species violation rate drops
With another boating season just around the corner, Minnesota boaters and anglers need to continue to take steps to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS), according to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
While the rate of AIS violations dropped in 2013, one in five boaters is still breaking the law, according to a newly published annual report from the DNR.
“The decrease is good news, but we have a long way to go,” said Lt. Col. Rodmen Smith, DNR enforcement division assistant director. “We need to think zero.”
The invasive species violation rate dropped to 20 percent last year from 31 percent in 2012. The rate is the proportion of people who were issued citations at roadside check stations set up by DNR conservation officers.
“Far too many people are still not following the law,” Smith said. “Boaters and anglers are legally required to clean boats and equipment and drain all water to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.”
This year, the DNR will increase efforts to ensure boaters follow the AIS laws.
Following are activities highlighted in the 2013 invasive species of Minnesota report:
● DNR watercraft inspectors, who inspect boats and equipment at water accesses, conducted 123,000 inspections, an increase of nearly 62 percent since 2011.
● More than 1,000 lake service providers have received AIS training and permits.
● During the first full year of its operation, the AIS advisory committee began conversations with boat manufacturers on design modifications to ensure boats drain water more efficiently.
● Initiated risk assessments on the potential for transporting veligers in residual water of recreational watercraft.
● Collaborated with the Iowa DNR to install an electric barrier on Lower Gar Lake in Iowa to help prevent the migration of Asian carp into southwestern Minnesota.
Also last year, nearly 8,000 boats arrived at Minnesota water accesses with drain plugs in; more than 1,200 had vegetation attached, and 134 had zebra mussels attached. These were all violations of AIS laws.
Enforcement and watercraft inspection together represent the largest segment (43 percent) of the program’s annual 2013 budget of about $8.5 million.
The budget also covers management and control of invasive aquatic plant species such as Eurasian watermilfoil and curly-leaf pondweed and education.
For more information and a PDF file of the 2013 annual report, visit www.mndnr.gov/AIS.