PHOENIX — Visiting winter boaters: It’s time to schedule your free watercraft inspections and decontaminations before heading home. In order to avoid fines, quarantines and even impoundments when traveling across state lines, the Arizona Game and Fish Department has authorized providers to perform inspections and decontaminations for boats traveling from waters designated as having aquatic invasive species (AIS).
“Watercraft inspection and decontamination is the most effective way to prevent the spread of AIS and we are asking the boating public to do their part in calling and scheduling a no-cost inspection and decontamination,” AZGFD Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator Erin Raney said. “It is absolutely essential to have your boat inspected and if necessary, decontaminated, to prevent the spread of mussels and AIS into other waterbodies.”
Aquatic Invasive Species are non-native species that are often unintentionally introduced by human movement. They do not have predators outside of their native range, and are able to outcompete native species.
They can be animals, plants and even pathogens that cause disease in native wildlife. They can often be invisible to the naked eye, making them even more difficult to control. Once introduced, they can alter ecosystems by interrupting food chains, cause damage to boats and other recreational gear, clog up water and power infrastructure and pose safety hazards.
Appointments fill up fast, so be sure to call the Arizona Game and Fish AIS Program (623) 236-7608 with plenty of time ahead of departure.
Stop the spread of AIS and keep our waters clean and beautiful for ourselves and future generations. Regardless of where you boat, always remember to:
- Clean boats, waders, anchors, equipment and gear by removing mud, plants, attached animals such as snails.
- Drain all residual water from engines and motors, ballast tanks, live wells and bait wells. Pull your bilge plug and leave out during transport. Store with boat keys or in a location where you will remember before launch.
- Dry all equipment that comes in contact with water, such as life jackets, ropes, buoys, tubes, etc.
Many states require that watercraft must stop for inspection, which includes both motorized and non-motorized boats. If you see signs that indicate that an inspection station is open, please stop and have your watercraft inspected by the state in which you are traveling.
Quagga mussels are extremely small and are excellent at hiding in places that are hard to inspect. So the more eyes looking over your watercraft, the better chance of preventing these hitchhikers from entering a new waterbody.
Boaters are required to comply with all AIS regulations of the respective states where they are traveling, as well as those of their final destination. Be sure to contact your local state AIS authorities for any additional questions on local regulation compliance.