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Boaters, Anglers Must Be 'Good Stewards'

Boaters who "Clean, Drain and Dry" can stop the spread of Aquatic Invasive Species.


December 15, 2013

Preventing the spread of Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) in Arizona waters starts with Arizona boat owners and anglers.

To protect Arizona lakes, rivers and streams from the devastating effects of invasive species, Arizona Game and Fish laws require boaters and anglers to be good stewards by cleaning, draining and drying their boats and pulling the boat plug when leaving an AIS-affected lake. Failure to do so may result in a citation for the boat owner and possible fines.

Clean, Drain, Dry

Game and Fish is stepping up enforcement because invasive species have found their way into several Arizona lakes and rivers after being transported from one body of water to another. Cleaning, draining and drying boats, trailers, waders and fishing equipment helps contain these invaders and minimizes damage to boats, water intakes, power plants, aquatic habitats, native and sport fish populations, and water conveyance infrastructure.

Directors Orders

In 2009, the Arizona Legislature passed the Aquatic Invasive Species Interdiction Act (A.R.S. §17-255), authorizing regulatory measures known as "Director's Orders" and making the Game and Fish Department responsible for establishing mandatory protocols to stop the spread and transport of these invasive organisms, and enforcing public compliance with these protocols.

The Director's Orders have identified aquatic invasive species affecting these Arizona waters:

• Lake Powell: quagga mussel

• Lake Mead: quagga mussel, New Zealand mudsnail

• Lake Mohave: quagga mussel, New Zealand mudsnail

• Lake Havasu: quagga mussel, didymo

• Lower Colorado River below Lake Havasu: quagga mussel, giant salvinia, apple snail

• Lake Pleasant: quagga mussel, largemouth bass virus (LMBV)

• Lees Ferry: New Zealand mudsnail, whirling disease

• Lower Salt/Verde River: apple snail

• Bartlett Lake: LMBV

• Roosevelt Lake: LMBV

• Saguaro Lake: LMBV

Being Good Stewards

To help stop the spread of aquatic invasive species, it is vital that boaters and anglers avoid transporting water, live fish or fish body parts from one body of water to another. Wipe down your boat, pull your plug, and drain all water from any places in your boat where it may accumulate. According to Chris Cantrell, Chief of Fisheries for Arizona Game and Fish, being a good steward means boaters and anglers should clean, drain and dry their watercraft and equipment each and every time they come out of an AIS affected water, as listed above.

"Going through the steps to prevent the spread of AIS is easy and should become as routine as securing your boat to its trailer," said Cantrell. "Doing this every time you pull your boat out of the water is the best way to protect your boat, and your favorite places to boat and fish in Arizona."

How To Stop Spread Of AIS

To help stop the spread of aquatic invasive species, boaters and anglers should -

1. Pull out your boat plug at the ramp or parking lot

2. Drain any water from boats, bilge, bait buckets, and live-wells before leaving the launch area.

3. Dispose of all unused bait in the trash, never in the water.

4. Never transfer live fish or fish body parts (i.e., head, skin, entrails) from one body of water to another.

5. Rinse any mud and/or debris from equipment and wading gear.

6. Use vinegar to disinfect your equipment. Vinegar can be reused several times, if needed.

7. Allow everything to air dry before moving to another body of water.

8. Educate others to follow these steps.

Don't let a citation spoil your next boat outing. Be sure to pull your boat's plug and clean, drain and dry your boat before leaving any AIS-affected water.

To view the department's watercraft decontamination protocols, visit:

Targeted Enforcement Begins Jan. 1, 2014

Beginning Jan. 1, 2014, the State of Arizona will ramp up their efforts to stop the spread of quagga mussels and other invasive species in Arizona waters. Law enforcement officers from the Arizona Game and Fish Department, in coordination with other lake patrol agencies, will start issuing citations to boaters who don't "Clean, Drain and Dry" their boats when they leave quagga-infested lakes.

Since October, Game and Fish enforcement officers have been educating boaters leaving the Lake Pleasant and Lake Havasu boat ramps, and distributing literature on the danger of quagga mussels. Some boaters were given written warnings and told to "Clean, Drain and Dry" their boats. Starting Jan. 1, boaters who don't comply won't get a warning, they'll get a citation, a mandatory court appearance, and if found guilty, a fine.

"Boat owners must clean, drain and dry their boats every time they visit and leave Lake Mead, Pleasant, Havasu and Mojave," said Arizona Game and Fish Department Invasive Species Program Coordinator Tom McMahon. "You'll be protecting your boat, protecting Arizona waters and protecting native species. And starting Jan. 1st, you'll also be protecting your wallet."

Unless a boater empties his bilge, ballast tanks, live well and engine of all water before leaving the lake, young microscopic quagga mussels can hitch a ride in any standing water and spread their havoc statewide. Quagga mussels and other invasive species out-compete sport fish and native species for the nutrients in lake water.

Quagga Mussel

They multiply quickly, grow into large colonies and attach to structures in the lake, water pipes, marina infrastructure, boats and even marker buoys. The potential cost implications for the Western United States are likely to range in the billions of dollars.

"Boaters on Lake Havasu, Mead, Mohave and Pleasant are the most likely to spread quagga mussels, and we need their cooperation," said Tyler VanVleet, law enforcement program manager for the Game and Fish Department's Mesa District.

"If paying a fine makes you pay attention to the danger of quagga mussels, it's a small price to pay for keeping our Arizona recreational waterways and water conveyance infrastructure free of this destructive pest."


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