The Fight Against Aquatic Invasive Species
There is currently a battle raging in the Great Lakes region, and it's happening underwater. Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) are infiltrating out Sweetwater Seas and weaseling their way into the Great Lakes ecosystem. Fortunately, efforts are already underway to combat the spread of these critters and keep waters safe for boaters to enjoy.
Minnesota Sea Grant defines AIS as "non-native aquatic plants, animals and pathogens that live in water, thrive in new environments and cause economic loss, environmental damage and harm to human health." The most common AIS are zebra mussels, Eurasian watermilfoil and sea lamprey.
A recent article published by Michigan State University Extension compares these species to "hitchhikers," moving between inland lakes and using boats and trailers as their primary mode of transit. They cling to the bottom of boats and easily hide in livewells and bait buckets. The Great Lakes region has hundreds of thousands of inland lakes, making the area an easy target for these invasive species.
One way the boating industry is fighting back is by redesigning the boats themselves, according to an online article published by the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The new designs help prevent these freeloaders from attaching to the boat by capping all possible holes. Pontoon manufacturer Premier Marine has already begun redesigning its products with the goal of decreased proliferation of AIS in mind, according to the article.Boaters also can assist in prevention efforts by doing routine maintenance aboard their boats, such as cleaning and drying their vessel after each use. It also is important to drain water from bilges and livewells when taking a boat out of the water and dispose of unused bait.
For more information, visit the Clean Boats Clean Water website.
Photo courtesy of Gene Wilburn