If you reside or have ever lived in a region surrounded by lakes or a large body of water, you would be familiar with the invasive plants and animals that tend to inhabit these bodies of water. We call them the aquatic invasive species, and just like the name implies, they are quite meddlesome.
One way or another, you may have noticed the “Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers!” warning signs, like the one on the left, mounted at the entry points of local lakes. In fact, you couldn’t have missed them. But do you know why they are there? Let’s take a deeper dive!
What are Aquatic Invasive Species?
As aforementioned, Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) are nonindigenous plants and animals that reside in bodies of water. More than this, these species pose a larger problem than simply finding their way into and residing in lakes. They are threats to the balance of ecosystems, quality of outdoor recreation, economic development, and human health. (1)
Generally, they tend to affect the quality of water infested in some way, and the common effect of that is driving out or killing off native species. In more complex cases, an infestation may grossly affect the economic life of the region. For example, Eurasian Water Milfoil reduced Wisconsin lakefront property values by 13 percent and Vermont’s by 16 percent. (1)
How Do We Stop the Spread?
Now, with the knowledge of the dangers AIS can pose, can you see the reasons why it is important to stop the spread of such damaging species through our lakes?
So, what are the steps needed to prevent this from happening?
Well, it is as simple as this – do not put them there. Make sure you are not the carrier of these threatening species to the lake you are visiting. Here’s what you should do:
-Clean your watercraft.
-Drain water-related equipment and keep it dry.
-Dispose of all unwanted bait.
- Clean your watercraft – Before going into any body of water, ensure that you clean off all visible aquatic mussels, plants, and any other visible dirt from your watercraft. In fact, it is advisable to clean them off with hot water as it is a more potent way of killing the invasive species, even those that are not visible to the eyes.
- Drain water-related equipment and keep it dry – This implies that you must drain all water-related equipment you have in your possession. Considerably, you should go the extra mile to ensure that they are thoroughly dried for at least 5 days. From your portable tank containers, ballast tanks and bilge to your motor, you should make sure everything is properly drained and dried.
- Dispose of all unwanted bait – This is one major consideration anglers must take note of. You should not dispose of your unwanted bait on the ground around or in the body of water. Rather, it should be properly disposed of in the trash. Anything that goes against this practice is totally outside of the law and deemed as illegal. (2)
So, if you are heading to another lake or just taking your boat cruising for the weekend, keep in mind that following the three simple steps highlighted above can help preserve our beautiful lakes and keep them safe.
(1) “Aquatic Hitchhikers.” Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers, 2017, stopaquatichitchhikers.org/hitchhikers/. Accessed 19 October 2020
(2) “Clean In Clean Out.” Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, 2020, www.dnr.state.mn.us/invasives/preventspread_watercraft.html. Accessed 19 October 2020.