NEW YORK (WWTI) — Ahead of Memorial Day weekend and as the 2021 boating season officially kicks off, New York water recreationists are being urged to protect their waterways from invasive species.
On May 26, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos reminded water recreationists to help protect New York waters from aquatic invasive species by cleaning, draining and drying watercraft and equipment.
The DEC stated that these actions help to limit the spread of species like zebra mussels.
“Aquatic invasive species like zebra mussels, spiny waterflea, hydrilla, and others can be easily transported from one waterbody to another on boats, trailers, and fishing equipment,” said Commissioner Seggos. “Protecting New York’s waters is a high priority for DEC. Our lakes and ponds are invaluable in providing wildlife habitat, sustaining our state’s fisheries and fishing industry, and offering opportunities for recreation.”
According to the DEC, in 2020 boating traffic increased 20% across New York State. However, the Department is expecting these rates to continue to increase this season, which leads to increased risks for aquatic invasives.
The DEC has also expanded its boat steward coverage in recent years through the Watercraft Inspection Stewardship Program. Boat stewards demonstrate how to conduct boat and trailer inspections prior to launching into a new waterbody and provide basic facts about AIS.
In 2020, the department’s boat stewards intercepted over 19,000 aquatic invasive species on boats and equipment statewide.
To encourage boaters to “CLEAN. DRAIN. DRY.,” the DEC has released the following PSA:
To help protect New York’s lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams, visit DEC’s website for more information on aquatic invasive species, and a step by step guide for ridding boats and equipment of invasive species.