Nuisance Aquatic Species Guidance
[Federal Register: April 13, 2000 (Volume 65, Number 72)] [Notices] [Page 19953-19957]
Voluntary Guidelines for Recreational Activities To Control the Spread of Zebra Mussels and Other Aquatic Nuisance Species
Some guidelines are appropriate for any recreational activity associated with water. The generic preventive guidelines listed below apply to most recreational activities occurring in marine and inland waters. In addition to these guidelines, States and provinces may include specific laws and guidelines for their areas.
Always do the following:
Always inspect equipment (in the broadest sense, e.g., boats, planes, trailers, decoy anchors, SCUBA gear, and lures) for visible plants and animals before transporting.
Always remove visible mud, plants and animals from equipment (expel plants, animals, and water from internal parts).
Always drain water from equipment before transporting.
Always clean equipment that has been in infested waters before placing it in other waters (see the ``Pathway-specific guidelines'' section for specific methods).
Always report questionable species to your resource agency for identification. Information is available from many sources about identification of ANS; however, specimens are needed to confirm sightings. Many jurisdictions have different rules regarding possession and transport.
Always ask your local natural resources management agency for instructions.
Never do the following:
Never transport plants, animals, mud, or water from lakes, rivers, wetlands, and coastal waters.
Never release animals or plants (e.g., aquarium species, bait, pets, hunting dogs, or water garden plants) into the wild unless you release them into the same waterbody or location where the species came from.
Pathway-Specific Guidelines These guidelines cover recreational activities that are potential pathways for transferring ANS. Individuals engaged in these activities should follow these guidelines to help prevent the spread of ANS. You should note that States and provinces may add to these voluntary guidelines their own related laws and guidelines, if any, regarding transport or possession of ANS.
(a) Scuba Diving: You can unintentionally transport ANS, such as the zebra mussel, spiny water flea, and Eurasian water milfoil, from one body of water to another on your scuba-diving gear. You should take precautions to reduce the risk of spreading these unwanted species, especially when diving in different waters on the same or consecutive days. Many scuba divers believe that zebra mussels have benefited the sport by improving visibility in the waters they inhabit. They soon learn, however, that geological formations and shipwrecks that once attracted them are encrusted with layers of zebra mussels, which obscure these objects. The harm to the environment, the fisheries, and industrial, municipal, and private water intakes, therefore, far outweigh any benefit. Any objects removed from the water have the potential of introducing ANS to new waters. By adhering to the guidelines that follow, you can help prevent the spread of ANS when you scuba dive, and you can help protect the environment from the harmful impacts of these species.
Inspect your equipment.
Remove any plants, mud, or animals that are visible before leaving all waters.
Drain water from buoyancy compensator (bc), regulator, tank boot, and any other equipment that may hold water before leaving all waters. ANS can survive for a period of time on wet scuba gear or in water. Therefore, do at least one of the following: (1) Dry your suit and all equipment completely before diving in different waters, and rinse the inside of your bc with hot or salted water as described in items (2) and (3), which immediately follow. (2) Submerge and wash your suit and equipment, and rinse the inside of your bc with hot water (at least 40 deg. (C or 104 deg. (F). (3) Submerge and wash your suit and equipment in a tub or tote containing salted water (\1/2\cup of salt dissolved in one gallon of water); rinse the inside of your bc with the salted solution; and rinse your equipment with clean water.
(b) Waterfowl Hunting: Nonindigenous ANS such as the zebra mussel, purple loosestrife, and Eurasian water milfoil can damage habitat for fish, waterfowl, and other wildlife. Waterfowl hunters should be aware that it is possible to inadvertently spread ANS from one lake or wetland via boats, motors, trailers, and decoys. Waterfowlers should assume that any fragments of aquatic plants could be potentially harmful and should not be transported from one wetland, lake, river, or coastal area to another. In addition, zebra mussels and their microscopic larvae can attach to aquatic plants. If fragments of these plants are transported, they can inadvertently transport zebra mussels to other waters. By following the guidelines on recreational activities, you can help prevent the spread of ANS via waterfowl hunting.
Guidelines Before the hunting season--
Switch to elliptical, bulb-shaped, or strap anchors on decoys, which avoid collecting submerged and floating aquatic plants; or If boats are moored in waters infested with zebra mussels, use the following tips to remove or kill zebra mussels or other aquatic animals and plants that might be in or on your boat: (1) Remove any visible zebra mussels from the boat and wash and rinse the boat with hot water; or (2) Spray the boat with high-pressure water; or (3) Dry all parts of the boat for at least 5 days before placing it into another waterbody.
Inspect waders or hip boots; remove aquatic plants; and, where possible, rinse mud from them before leaving the waters;
Remove aquatic plants, animals, and mud that are attached to decoy lines or anchors; and
Drain the water from boats before transporting to other waters. Between hunting trips--
Inspect equipment for any aquatic plants, animals, and mud not removed after hunting; remove and dispose of them on land away from the waters; and
Follow the guidelines for boaters in paragraph (e).
(c) Recreational Anglers' Harvest of Live Bait (Non-Commercial Harvest): The guidelines that follow apply to the non-commercial harvesting of live bait by recreational anglers. Also, the RAC is developing guidelines for commercial bait. Nonindigenous species can lodge in nets and other equipment used to harvest baitfish and can be unintentionally transported into noninfested waters. Some species can survive up to 2 weeks out of water and remain viable when dislodged into another waterbody. Non-target ANS species like ruffe and round goby, as well as fragments of aquatic nuisance plants, such as hydrilla or Eurasian water milfoil, can be harvested along with target baitfish species. If such species are transferred to noninfested waters, they can have harmful effects on native fish populations. To help prevent the transfer of these species, you should conduct the procedures that follow during or after the harvest of live bait for personal use.
Inspect harvested live bait for non-target species, and remove them where harvested.
Always dispose of unwanted live bait on land (away from contact with waters) before leaving the waters.
Never release live bait into a waterbody or move aquatic plants or animals from one waterbody into a different waterbody.
Remove all aquatic plants from boats, trailers, nets, or other equipment while on shore before leaving the water-body access.
Before reusing nets, roll out, hand clean, and dry them.
Drain water from boats and equipment (bilge pump, tubs, live wells, etc.) before leaving any waterbody access.
Never use water from infested waters to transport live bait to other waters. In many States and provinces, live bait harvested from designated infested waters is illegal. Check with your local State natural resource agency before you collect live bait.
In areas where harvest of bait from infested waters is legal, avoid using the same equipment in infested and noninfested waters. Some aquatic nuisance species once removed from infested waters can survive up to two weeks in a moist environment. By drying surfaces where they can be lodged or attached, you can substantially reduce the risk of transporting them in boats and equipment.
Rinse all equipment, including boats and trailers, with tap water and dry them for as long as possible, but for at least 5 days before re-use, especially in other waters. Before re-use, you should roll out nets, hand clean them, and dry them for a minimum of 10 days, or freeze them for 2 days.
The following applies to disinfection, specific to zebra mussels, of equipment that is difficult to treat with drying and washing methods (use these methods away from the waterbody): (1) As an added equipment treatment, a dip of 100 percent vinegar for 20 minutes can kill small zebra mussels and may be effective against other ANS. (2) Treatment with other chemicals such as a 1-percent solution of table salt for 24 hours can be as effective as a dip of vinegar.
(d) Angling: The introduction of ANS can cause significant changes in freshwater and marine ecosystems. Populations of prey and game fish can be significantly harmed by the presence of species such as the sea lamprey, Asian swamp eel, Chinese carp, and zebra mussel. Some aquatic nuisance plants (e.g., hydrilla, Eurasian water milfoil, and water hyacinth) may limit the viable fishing area of inland waters. You can help prevent the transfer of ANS by following the guidelines in this section whenever you engage in angling.
Dispose of unwanted live bait on land before leaving the waterbody.
Never release live bait into a waterbody or move aquatic plants or animals from one waterbody to another.
Wash and dry your boat, tackle, downriggers, float tube, waders, and other equipment to remove or kill harmful species that were not visible at the boat launch.
Inspect all fish caught using seines, dipnets, or other types of netting; remove and properly discard all non-target species.
(e) Boating: ANS, such as the zebra mussel, spiny water flea, and Eurasian water milfoil, can be unintentionally transported through water-related recreation activities because some ANS can survive many days out of water. If you are a water recreationalist (e.g., boater, angler, water- skier, canoeist, or kayaker), there are some important actions you can take to prevent the transport of ANS from one waterbody to another.
Before leaving all waters, inspect your boat (sailboats check centerboard and bilgeboard wells, and keel boats check the rudder-post area), trailer (check axles, runners, lights, and rollers), and other boating equipment (check anchors, water-skis, or other tow lines), and remove any plants, animals, or mud that are visible (see diagram 1).
Drain water from the motor, livewell, bilge, and transom wells while on land and before leaving all waters.
Wash and dry your boat, tackle, downriggers, trailer, and other boating equipment to kill harmful species that were not visible at the boat launch. You can do this on your way home or once you arrive home.
Before you transport to other waters, do one of the following: (1) Rinse your boat and boating equipment with hot (greater than 40 deg.C or 104 deg.F) tap water. (2) Spray your boat and trailer with high-pressure water. (3) Dry your boat and equipment for at least 5 days.
For your information, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in conjunction with Canadian officials and other partners, are implementing the 100th Meridian Initiative, which focuses on preventing the westward spread of zebra mussels and other ANS by boat inspections and by dissemination of posters, brochures, and other information about ANS. There are many other State and Federal initiatives focusing on controlling the spread of ANS. Consult your local Fish and Wildlife Service facility or other appropriate State or Federal natural resource management agency for additional information.
(f) Seaplanes: Many ANS, such as the zebra mussel and Eurasian water milfoil, can be unintentionally transported from one waterbody to another on the floats of seaplanes. Therefore, it is important to clean the aircraft to remove ANS before traveling, rather than after landing at new locations. In addition, it is important for you to incorporate the procedures listed here into the operation of your seaplane. However, plane safety is the first priority when considering and following these guidelines.
Before entering the aircraft--
Inspect and remove aquatic plants from the floats, wires or cables, and water rudders;
Pump floats, which may contain infested water; and
If moored in waters infested by zebra mussels for extended periods, check the transom, chine, bottom, wheel wells, and step area of floats (see diagram 2). If zebra mussels are present on the floats, you can use (any) one of the following methods to remove or kill them: (1) Wash the floats with hot water. (2) Spray the floats with high-pressure water. (3) Dry all parts of the floats for at least 5 days.
Avoid taxiing through heavy surface growths of aquatic plants before takeoff;
Raise and lower water rudders several times to clear off plants. This will also minimize cable stretch and improve the effectiveness of the rudders for steering.
Raise and lower water rudders several times to free fragments of aquatic plants while over the waters you are leaving or while over land; and
If aquatic plants remain visible on floats or water rudders, return to the lake and remove the plants. Storage or mooring--
Remove aircraft from the water, as is often done at seaplane bases, and allow all parts of the floats to dry. A few days of hot, summer temperatures will kill adult zebra mussels (longer drying times of up to 10 days are required to kill adult mussels during cool, humid weather); and
Aircraft moored for extended periods in zebra-mussel- infested waters may have zebra mussels attached to the floats and should be cleaned regularly. In remote locations, where zebra mussels are present, but where there are no provisions for drying, spraying, or treating the floats with hot water, the best option available for preventing the spread of the mussels is to hand-clean the submerged portions of floats with a scrub brush and to physically remove adult mussels. (Aircraft moored for extended periods in zebra-mussel-infested waters may have zebra mussels attached to the floats and should be cleaned regularly.)
(g) Personal Watercraft: Personal watercraft that have jet-drive systems require some extra precautions to avoid ANS. A pump pulls water in through an opening under the craft, and the impeller (an internal propeller) forces water out, moving the craft forward. ANS can easily get lodged in the jet- drive system and get transported if the watercraft is taken from one waterbody to another. A small piece of Eurasian water milfoil, or other ANS, caught in the impellers can infest a new lake or river. Zebra mussels can survive in excess water in the jet drive and spread to other waters. By applying the following guidelines, you can help prevent the transfer of ANS via your personal watercraft.
In the water--
Avoid running the engine through aquatic plants near the boat access; and
Push or winch the watercraft up on the trailer without running the engine.
On the trailer--
After you pull the watercraft from the water, start the engine for 5 to 10 seconds to blow out any excess water and vegetation. (The dark, damp, enclosed area of the impeller provides an ideal environment for aquatic nuisance plants to survive.); and
After the engine stops, pull plants out of the steering nozzle.
Inspect your trailer and any other sporting equipment for fragments of aquatic plants, and remove them before you leave the access area.
After trailering and before re-use--
Wash and dry your watercraft and equipment to kill or remove harmful species that you did not see at the boat launch. You can do this on your way home or once you arrive home.
Choose one of the following methods of disinfection before transporting to another waterbody:
(1) Rinse your watercraft and other equipment with hot (greater than 40 deg.C or 104 deg.F) tap water.
(2) Spray your watercraft and trailer with high-pressure water.
(3) Dry your watercraft and equipment for at least 5 days.
Dated: April 7, 2000. Joseph J. Angelo, Director of Standards, Marine Safety and Environmental Protection.