Wed 26 May 2021 1:40 pm
Boat stewards to conduct boat inspections and educate the recreating public about boat launches statewide
As this year’s boating season officially kicks off, Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Basil Seggos reminded water recreation enthusiasts to do their part to protect New York’s waters from invasive aquatic species. (AIS) by remembering to clean, drain and dry personal watercraft and equipment.
Last year, boater traffic increased nearly 20% at some launches, and flight attendants counted more than 390,000 boats at launches across the state – a significant increase from the 276,515 boats counted in 2019 The DEC predicts that more boaters will touch the water this season and, with them, an increased risk of introducing AIS into New York waters. Taking proactive measures such as cleaning fishing gear, removing aquatic vegetation from rudders, disinfecting boat hulls and water compartments, and proper disposal of bait significantly reduces this risk.
“Aquatic invasive species like zebra mussels, prickly water fleas, hydrillas and the like can be easily transported from one body of water to another on boats, trailers and fishing gear,” said Seggos. âProtecting New York’s waters is a priority for DEC. Our lakes and ponds are invaluable in providing habitat for wildlife, supporting our state’s fishing and fishing industry, and providing recreational opportunities.
Over the past few years, CED has expanded its boat stewardship coverage through the Personal Watercraft Inspection Stewardship Program, reaching out to other boaters with the clean, draining and dry message. Flight attendants demonstrate how to perform boat and trailer inspections before embarking on a new body of water and provide basic facts about AIS.
In 2020, DEC boat managers spoke with more than 30,000 boaters who were unfamiliar with the boat steward program. These stewards also intercepted more than 19,000 AIS on boats and equipment, including hydrils, which were removed from boats heading for Lake Champlain and Lake Ontario. Existing hydrilla infestations in Cayuga, Erie, Tioga, Tompkins and Westchester counties are currently costing New Yorkers more than $ 1 million per year in control and mitigation.
âLast fall, we opened the new boat launch at Otisco Lake. We are delighted that this is one of more than 200 sites participating in New York State’s personal watercraft inspection program, âsaid Matthew Marko, DEC Region 7 director. “We ask all recreation enthusiasts to clean, drain and dry their watercraft and equipment to help protect New York’s waters.”
Finger Lakes PRISM Coordinator Hilary Mosher said, âThe Finger Lakes Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management (PRISM) looks forward to providing education and awareness on the new Otisco Lake launch and hopes to reach more new boaters.
To help protect New York’s lakes, ponds, rivers and streams, visit DEC website for more information on AIS and a step by step guide to clear boats and equipment of AIS. DEC also released a new statewide public service announcement reminding boaters to clean, drain and dry their boats in order to protect state waters. The PSA is available on DEC’s YouTube page at https://youtu.be/MHdyB5SpnR8.