Celebrate Michigan’s Aquatic Invasive Species Awareness Week

Become familiar with aquatic invasive species and how best to prevent their spread.

For decorative purposes.
Educational events are taking place at boat launches across the Great Lakes to increase awareness of invasive species prevention. Photo credit: NYDEC

Michigan’s Aquatic Invasive Species Awareness Week, proclaimed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, takes place July 3-9, 2022. The week will include many educational opportunities for residents to learn about harmful, nonnative aquatic plants and animals and their impacts on Michigan’s Great Lakes and inland waterways. One major event taking place is the Great Lakes Aquatic Invasive Species Landing Blitz. The Landing Blitz is a binational multi-agency effort aimed at raising public awareness and promoting actions that prevent the spread of harmful aquatic invasive species at boat launches. This year more than 67 boat landing events are planned across Michigan. Aquatic invasive species can invade new waterways when they are carried in the bilge water of boats, tangled on watercraft propellers or trailers, or when they are attached to equipment like fishing lines and gear.

At landing blitz events, boaters are reminded of laws aimed at preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species, including:

  • All aquatic organisms, including plants, should be removed from watercraft and trailers before launching or transporting.
  • All drain plugs and water from bilges, ballast tanks and live wells should be drained before transporting a watercraft.
  • Unused bait should be disposed of in the trash, not in the water.

Recommended additional actions boaters should take include:

  • Wash boats and trailers before leaving the access area if possible, or at a nearby car wash or at home.
  • Dry boats and equipment for five days before launching into a different water body.
  • Disinfect live wells and bilges with a bleach solution (1/2 cup bleach to 5 gallons water).

Learn more about clean boating practices on the Michigan State University (MSU) Extension Clean Boats, Clean Waters website.

Not a boater? There are still things you can do to reduce the spread of aquatic invasive species

  • Become familiar with aquatic invasive species and how to report them. The Michigan Invasive Species Program maintains a list of ‘watch list’ species. These species have either never been confirmed in the wild in Michigan or have very limited known distribution. Early detection and timely reporting of these species is crucial for increasing the chances of preventing establishment and limiting harmful impacts.
  • Never dump an unwanted aquarium or plants and animals from water gardens into lakes or streams. Give or trade with a hobbyist or surrender to a local retailer. Check out the Reduce Invasive Pet and Plant Escapes (RIPPLE) website for more information on disposal options.
  • Avoid landscaping with invasive plants in water gardens. While some plants are prohibited from sale, it’s best to plant native or at least avoid plants with an invasive tendency. Visit a local nursery and consult with them. The MSU Native Plant website also has a variety of resources.
  • Don’t intentionally release live food (e.g., fish, crayfish, etc.) from grocery stores into the wild as an act of compassion or mercy. The released animal may not survive or if it does survive it may become invasive. If you practice compassion or mercy release for religious or cultural reasons, explore alternative methods such as volunteering at a local wildlife rehabilitation center that releases animals back into their natural environment.

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