Boat maintenance checks are an important part of keeping your fish and ski boats running smoothly all season long. But sometimes checking for invasive species gets forgotten. These non-native species may not seem like that much of a problem but they can cause some serious damage to your boat and local sport fishing populations. Here are some quick tips for cleaning your boat of unwanted species.
Aquatic invasive species directly affect native species by outcompeting them for food causing a decline in native fish populations.
They cost the Canadian government millions each year in managing the species and direct impacts to the economy.
Prevention is the best method against non-native species. Cleaning your boat thoroughly will help stop the spread of invaders into other lakes and rivers.
These fish are native to China and southern Russia. They Thrive in cool water, reproduce rapidly and outcompete native fish for food. They can feel the vibrations of a boats motor which causes them to jump up to 3 meters out of the water, possibly injuring boaters. Currently they have not spread to the Great Lakes but they pose a threat because they have spread in US water ways like the Mississippi river.
Round Goby’s originate from Eastern Europe. They feed on the eggs and young of native fish species reducing sport fishing populations. They are found in the Great Lakes and some inland lakes in Canada. They harm local populations because they contain toxins that kill the fish and birds who eat them.
Zebra Mussels are native to Europe but are now found throughout the Great Lakes. These mussels filter plankton out of the water which depletes food sources for native species. Their large colonies cut the feet of swimmers and they latch onto boat hulls clogging intakes, bilges and engine compartments.
How to prevent the spread
1. Drain any livewell or bilge water at the launch site. Leftover bait should be disposed of in the garbage and never back into the lake.
2. Check the hull of your boat by running your hand along it. If it feels rough like sandpaper it probably has mussels attached to it and needs to be scraped thoroughly.
3. Remove any plant matter from your boat and equipment. Disinfect items that you can’t properly clean to kill any stowaways. Chlorine bleach added to water (1 part bleach with 10 parts water) can be used to clean areas with trapped water, like livewells.
4. Dry your boat and equipment before entering a new lake. Some species can live long periods of time out of water.
We all have a part to play in keeping our lakes and water ways free of non-native species. Proper boat cleaning helps stop the spread of aquatic species that threaten native species and recreational fishing.
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