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Boat Washing and Aquatic Invasive Species Spread Prevention in New York

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With the recent discovery of spiny water flea and Asian clam in Lake George and the efforts of the Lake George Park Commission and local municipalities to reduce the likelihood of additional aquatic invasive species (AIS) introductions, the subject of AIS spread prevention has received much media attention. As with many controversial issues, opinions vary on the specific risk that each of these AIS represent to NY waters and the best techniques to combat this risk. The information on the following pages provides answers to some of the more commonly asked questions concerning aquatic invasive species. It also provides a discussion of techniques that can be used to reduce the spread of AIS in New York State and answers to some common questions concerning the applicability and implementation of these techniques. Links to more specific information are also provided. This information is provided to assist boat owners and boat access providers in making an informed decision on how they can best help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species in New York State.

What is an Aquatic Invasive Species?

According to New York State Environmental Conservation Law an invasive species is a species that is not native to an ecosystem and causes or is likely to cause significant economic or environmental harm, or harm human health. In reality, AIS rarely have any human health implications, but do have the potential to outcompete native species and grow or reproduce to nuisance proportions in a body of water. In certain cases these species may be native to the U.S. or another section of NY, but are not native to the entire state. White perch and alewife are an example of two fish species that are native to the marine and coastal region of NY, but have become problematic when introduced to inland waters. In other cases AIS may be introduced from other regions of the world.

How do these Aquatic Invasive Species get into this country?

Image of tankers in the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Two common ways that this occurs are through the release of species brought to this country via the aquarium industry and in the ballast water discharges from large commercial vessels traveling to the U.S from various other areas of the world. When ballast water is discharged in a waterbody, any organisms found in it are released. AIS may also be brought into this country through the aquaculture and nursery industry.

What is being done to stop these sources of AIS?

Regulations now require ocean-going vessels to flush their ballast tanks with saltwater prior to arrival in the U.S. The State of New York continues to work with the Coast Guard and other Federal authorities to ensure that this significant source of AIS from outside the country is addressed. NYSDEC is also in the process of developing a list of invasive species that cannot be sold in New York State. This will control the sale of potentially problematic species via the aquarium trade, nursery industry and other commercial sources of AIS.

Additional Questions and Answers

Questions and answers on how aquatic invasive species are spread

Questions and answers on cleaning and disinfection techniques for boaters

Questions and answers on aquatic species of concern for New York boaters

Questions and answers on additional aquatic invasive species information and advice for boaters

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