Civil citation fines for violating aquatic invasive species (AIS) laws in Minnesota will double beginning July 1. For example, the fine for transporting a watercraft or water related equipment with attached aquatic plants will go from $50 to $100 and the fine for possessing, or transporting a prohibited invasive species, such as zebra mussels will now be $500.
Watercraft users need to remove all aquatic plants, animals from their watercraft, drain all water and leave all their drain plugs and water draining devices open during transport.
This weekend and throughout the summer, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has considerably ramped up its boat inspections, enforcement efforts and educational campaign to prevent the spread of invasive zebra mussels and other AIS.
About 140 watercraft inspectors will be stationed around the state, checking boats for AIS and advising water users of laws and practices that will keep invasive species from spreading. The DNR will also deploy 23 decontamination units at various water bodies around the state. The agency will concentrate inspectors and decontamination efforts at high-use water bodies that are currently infested with AIS.
Other new AIS laws that go into effect July 1 include:
Boat lifts, docks, swim rafts and other water-related equipment (except boats and other watercraft) that are removed from any water body may not be placed in another water body for at least 21 days. The drying out period is designed to kill any AIS that might be attached to the equipment that are high risk and difficult to clean. (Two zebra mussel introductions occurred last year as a result of water equipment being sold and moved from one water body to another).
Boat clubs, yacht clubs, marinas and other similar organizations are now considered lake-service providers, requiring permits for the clubs and staff working there. That means they must go through AIS certification training.
To help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species, boaters and anglers are required by law to:
Clean aquatic plants and animals off boats, trailers and equipment.
Drain bait buckets, bilges and live wells before leaving any water access.
Keep drain plugs out while transporting water-related equipment.
More information, including a new 25-minute video called “Aquatic Invasive Species, Minnesota Waters at Risk,” is available at www.mndnr.gov/invasives.