New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today reminded everyone to clean, drain, and dry boats and trailers, and disinfect fishing gear before recreating in New York’s waters to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS). Starting Friday, May 27, watercraft inspection stewards, AKA boat stewards, will be stationed at more than 225 boat launches throughout the state to educate and assist the public in cleaning their equipment. Identified by their blue vests, boat stewards can provide a refresher on how to inspect boats and gear and offer information about AIS in New York.
“New York’s abundant lakes, ponds, and streams are vital to the state’s ecology and economy, which is why DEC and our partners are helping protect against the impacts of aquatic invasive species,” said Commissioner Seggos. “Recreating responsibly in New York waters is a critical component for preventing the spread of invasive pests and our dedicated boat stewards will be working hard to protect New York’s waters for the benefit and enjoyment of all. I’m asking New Yorkers to follow their useful instructions to help prevent aquatic invaders.”
Boat stewards are volunteers or paid members of the community who help protect New York State’s waters. Since 2008, the number of watercraft inspection steward programs is steadily increasing. Last year, DEC stewards provided courtesy inspections for more than 240,000 boaters and intercepted over 14,000 AIS, including zebra mussels, Eurasian watermilfoil, and curly leaf pondweed, which could have potentially established new populations as equipment was moved from waterbody to waterbody.
To view a video of Commissioner Seggos with Adirondack Watershed Institute boat stewards performing watercraft inspection and decontamination services at DEC’s Port Henry boat launch site, visit DEC’s YouTube page.
In addition, boaters and anglers should follow these steps to make sure equipment is not harboring invasive species:
- Clean mud, plants, fish, or animals from boating and fishing equipment (trailer bunks, axles, rollers, lights, transducers, license plates, motor props, tackle, waders, etc.) and discard the material in trash cans, at a disposal station, or well away from the waterbody, so it won’t get washed in during a storm.
- Drain water-holding compartments, including ballast tanks, live wells, and bilge areas, before leaving an access site.
- Dry everything thoroughly before using boats or equipment in another waterbody. Drying times can vary but a minimum of five to seven days in dry, warm conditions is recommended.
- When there’s no time to dry between uses, disinfect things with hot water that is at least 140 degrees Fahrenheit, or visit a decontamination site.
Attention Adirondack Park Boaters
Beginning June 8, 2022, under a new state law, if a DEC inspection station adjacent to a public waterbody in the Adirondack Park is open for operation, boaters must have either a self-issuing certification or decontamination certificate from a DEC inspection station before launching into the waterbody. More information on Adirondack boater requirements will soon be posted at DEC’s website.
All New York residents and visitors have a role to play in protecting state waters from invasive species. Visit DEC’s website for more tips on how to clean, drain, and dry watercraft, fishing gear, and other equipment and for more information about New York’s watercraft inspection steward program.
Photo at top: Boat stewards serve on the frontlines to prevent the spread of invasive species in Adirondack waterways. Photo provided by Adirondack Watershed Institute.