The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is proposing new regulations to prevent the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species at DEC boat launches and fishing access sites. The proposed regulatory changes require boaters to remove all visible plants and animals from boats, trailers and associated equipment and to drain boats before launching at or leaving a DEC boat launch and waterway access.
Boats, trailers and the equipment can spread aquatic invasive species from waterbody to waterbody and significantly harm recreational and commercial use of a waterbody while having a detrimental effect on native fish, wildlife and plants.
The proposed regulations will allow DEC law enforcement staff to ticket any user of a DEC boat launch facility or waterway access that does not drain a watercraft and remove any visible plants and animals attached to it, the trailer or associated equipment prior to launching, or leaving the site. The penalty for violating this regulation is imprisonment for not more than 15 days, or a fine of not more than $250, or both fine and imprisonment.
Here is some of the language of the proposed rule:
1. No person shall launch, or attempt to launch a watercraft from a state boat launching site, a fishing access site, or any other site from which a watercraft may be launched, or leave from these sites with any plant or animal, or parts thereof, visible to the human eye, in, on, or attached to any part of the watercraft, including livewells and bilges, the motor, rudder, anchor or other appurtenants; any equipment or gear; or the trailer or any other device used to transport or launch a watercraft that may come into contact with the water, unless a written permit is obtained from the department.
2. No person shall launch, or attempt to launch a watercraft from a state boat launching site, a fishing access site, or any other site from which a watercraft may be launched, or leave from these sites without draining the watercraft, including bilge areas, livewells, bait wells and ballast tanks, unless a written permit is obtained from the department.
An e-mail yesterday from the Lake George Association (LGA), which has been helping to lead the fight against invasive species in Lake George, called the proposed regulation “a great step forward in protecting all waterbodies in New York” and encouraged comments in support of the measure. While the LGA e-mail said the organization was still reviewing the fine print of the proposed legislation, but there was an indication they would seek stronger penalties. “We would like to see a higher possible fine for violations, especially any repeat violations,” the e-mail said.
DEC will accept public comments on the proposal through February 24, 2014. The full text of the proposed regulation can be found online.
Comments on the proposed regulations can be sent via e-mail to [email protected], or mailed to Edward Woltmann, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Bureau of Fisheries, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4753. Hard copies of the full text may also be requested from Mr. Woltmann at the above address.
Adirondack Almanack offers the most comprehensive coverage of invasive species issues in the Adirondack region. You can read all our reporting here.
Photo courtesy the Lake George Parks Commission.