This article was featured in the 2023 Spring Newsletter by Sam Verbeck-SLELO/TILT 2022 Watercraft Inspection Steward.
Clean Drain and Dry are words that boaters are hearing at boat launches from New York to Texas. Another commonly seen sign declares, “Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers,” but what does it all mean and why are these measures important? These need to be more than words, they need to be actions.
Invasive species are nothing new to the United States. They have been introduced inadvertently by people who have had honorable intentions and those who are unaware of invasive species on or in their watercraft. From seemingly innocent ornamental garden plants to aquarium specimens, non-native and invasive plants have found their way to our shores through a variety of routes. Species like the zebra mussel and round goby were unintentionally introduced through ballast water, while invasive aquatic plants like hydrilla were likely introduced through the aquarium trade and from there dumped into a waterway where they spread far and wide by watercraft.
The pathways of introduction for many aquatic invasive species make the words clean, drain, and dry have meaning that goes beyond words and provokes action! Next time you take your watercraft out on the water be sure to take action and follow these simple steps to protect the waters you love.
Clean: Clean whatever comes in contact with the water, this includes your boat and trailer as well as, life jackets, fishing line and tackle, boat fenders, anchor, and anchor lines. As soon as you pull your boat out of the water, take a walk around the trailer and remove any plant debris you can see.
Clean: Clean whatever comes in contact with the water, this includes your boat and trailer as well as, life jackets, fishing line and tackle, boat fenders, anchor, and anchor lines. As soon as you pull your boat out of the water, take a walk around the trailer and remove any plant debris you can see. Plants can easily hold thousands of zebra mussel eggs. Plants should be placed in the invasive species disposal located at every state launch. If a decontamination station is not nearby, wash your boat at home. A 10% bleach solution will help to kill eggs but drying time is still important. When inspecting your fishing gear, pay close attention because spiny waterfleas love to wrap themselves around fishing lines.
Drain: Drain and empty live wells, bait buckets, and bilge water, and lower your boat motor as you are preparing your trailer before you leave the boat launch area.
Dry: Dry your vessel, equipment, and fishing tackle for a minimum of 5 days before launching in a different body of water. Dry all parts of your boat. Zebra Mussel eggs can live out of the water for 5 days and an adult Zebra mussel can live out of water for 2 weeks. By ensuring proper dry time, you can significantly reduce the likelihood that aquatic invasive species will survive and be spread to other water bodies.