Summer won’t officially begin until this weekend, but people have already ventured onto local waterways for recreational boating.

This has been a tradition in GLOW region going back many years. With the numerous concerns we’re now confronting as a society, we hope people are enjoying their time on the water.

However, doing this comes with some responsibilities – and not just those related to current restrictions or new guidelines related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s up to all of us who make use of these waterways to leave them in the best condition possible for everyone else. The key to this is making sure watercraft are not transporting invasive species. Boat owners need to inspect their vessels and remove anything that could prove harmful down the road.

“What do Eurasian watermilfoil, didymo, water chestnut, purple loosestrife, fishhook water fleas and zebra mussels have in common? They are all species from other parts of the world that have been accidentally introduced and have flourished in New York state, often at the expense of our native species. Add to this list sea lamprey, white perch, fanwort, yellow perch, and a host of common baitfish species that are native to the [United States], and in some cases [New York], but have since spread to water which they were not originally found,” according to information from the state Department of Environmental Conservation. “These plants and animals are all considered invasive species. Without the predators, parasites and diseases that control their numbers in their native habitats, these species can reproduce and spread at an amazing pace. Similarly, fish diseases such as whirling disease and viral hemorrhagic septicemia have also been introduced to New York state. Although these diseases are not a threat to human health, they can have dire consequences for our native fish communities. Some of these species were introduced into New York via ballast water discharges, as ships from ports around the world travel up the St. Lawrence Seaway and into the Great Lakes. Many exotic aquatic plants have been introduced through the home aquarium trade. How some other organisms are introduced, including many fish diseases, are still unclear.

What is clear is that as anglers and boaters move from water to water, these invasives can be unknowingly spread. This can occur by failing to properly dry or disinfect boating and fishing equipment, improperly using and disposing of baitfish or illegally moving fish from water to water.”

Boaters should following a process before entering and upon leaving a waterway: Check, clean, drain, dry and disinfect.

“The ‘check, clean, drain, dry, disinfect’ procedure asks recreationists to check for and clean any visible mud, plants, fish or animals before transporting equipment to and from a launch,” a story published Sunday by the Watertown Daily Times reported. “The DEC recommends fish and animals be returned to the body of water in which they were found and a regional DEC office or conservation organization be notified; transporting invasive aquatic species to another body of water is prohibited in New York. In fact, state law prohibits the launching of watercraft with any visible invasive species on or in the craft, unless a boater has been issued a special permit. … Draining requires all water-holding compartments to be emptied, including ballast tanks and bilge areas as well as live wells when possible. After drying boats, trailers and all equipment before use in another body of water, boaters are encouraged to disinfect any equipment — ropes and nets, for example — that cannot be fully dried before reuse.”

Boat launch stewards are stationed throughout the state. Visit http://wdt.me/HVscTK to see where to find them, and let them help ensure boats are clean of invasive species.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1