Aquatic invasive species are one of the most critical problems facing the St. Lawrence River and Great Lakes. With 186 species introduced into the River and Lakes, the region’s ecosystem is bending under the weight of these
Bloody Red Shrimp
introduced species. Some scientists worry that the ecosystem of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River may be close to collapse because of these species.
The damage done by invasive plants alone costs the U.S. an estimated $34.7 billion a year.
To learn about invasive species in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River click here.
Help Prevent the Spread
Many aquatic invasives are transported from one lake or river system to another by hitchhiking on boats, boat trailers, barges, seaplanes and other aquatic equipment. They attach to boat hulls, engines, anchors, and other submerged equipment, as well as to plant material that may get caught on boats and trailers. They are also carried in boat bilge water, live wells, bait buckets, and SCUBA gear.
By taking a few precautionary steps after boating and fishing, people living along or visiting the shoreline can prevent the spread of invasives.
· Inspect boat and trailer carefully for mussels and aquatic vegetation and discard them in the trash.
· Clean hiking boots, waders, boats and trailers, off-road vehicles and other gear to stop invasive species from hitching a ride to a new location.
· Drain all water from the boat, including the bilge, live well and engine cooling system.
· Dry the boat and trailer in the sun for at least five days, or if you use your boat sooner, rinse off the boat, trailer, anchor, anchor line, bumpers, and engine with hot water or at a car wash.
· Leave live aquatic bait behind – either give it to someone using the same waterbody, or discard it in the trash.
· Cottagers, homeowners and businesses who draw water directly from a zebra mussel infested waterbody will need to protect their system from infestation.
· Avoid dumping aquariums into waterways.
· Use forage, hay, mulch and soil that are certified as “weed free.”
· Plant only non-invasive plants in your garden, and remove any known invaders.
· Report new or expanded invasive species outbreaks to authorities. (In New York click here, for a state-by-state list of contacts click here.)
· Volunteer to help remove invasive species from public lands and natural areas.
· Ask your political representatives at the state, local and national level to support invasive species control efforts.
Additional Ways You Can Help
· Go to the Army Corps of Engineers Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study website and add your support for physical separation to prevent Asian Carp from invading the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River basins.
· Let your Senator know that you support Senator Kristen Gillibrand’s bill, the Invasive Fish and Wildlife Prevention Act, to bring federal invasive species regulation and control into the 21st century.
To learn more about aquatic invasive species and Save The River’s campaign to stop further introductions, visit our Clean Up the Ballast page.