Something We on the River Know Too Much About
National Invasive Species Awareness Week is this week, February 21st-27th. Non-native plants, animals and pathogens harm humans and the environment and cause significant negative impact to our nation and the River region’s economy.
Invasive species have always been a threat to the River. To-date 186 invasive species have been documented in the Great Lakes and River. Almost 60 aquatic invasive species have been introduced by way of ballast water since opening the Lakes and River to ocean-going ships. The resulting harm to indigenous species has cost many millions of dollars in control and mitigation efforts.
Even with increased regulations commercial shipping still poses a threat and opens the door for new invasive species to enter the River. And relatively new research has produced a list of ten species of eastern European fishes that are at high-risk of invading the Great Lakes and causing significant harm if they are successful even with strict enforcement of saltwater flushes of the ballast of ocean-going ships.
The threat of Asian Carp has been an imminent danger to the Great Lakes and River. Other threats include the live trade of exotic plants and animals and the transport of recreational boats and equipment from one waterbody to another without proper cleaning – an all too common practice that poses a threat to all waters when owners use their boats in different locations.
Last year New York State took a step forward to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species and to protect our waters. Now all boats and floating docks launched in New York State must be clean of plant or animal matter. The intent of the new law is to prevent the spread of invasive species from one waterbody to another.
Cleaning your boat and trailer between waterbodies has long been a best practice to stop the spread of invasives. We hope that the state will follow up with extensive public outreach and education. Voluntary compliance is always preferable to enforcement.
The Department of Environmental Conservation is developing new regulations that will more clearly define how boaters must clean their vessels before entering the water. For a step-by-step guide on how to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species visit:http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/48221.html.
For more information on DEC boating regulations visit:http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/349.html.
For more information about invasive species click here.