New law makes the job easier for boat inspectors

New boating and fishing laws will help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species and make boat inspection for volunteers easier at boat launch sites.

Loading a boat onto a trailer, after spending a day on the water

It’s now the law to “after trailering boats, and before getting on the road, boaters must pull plugs, drain water and remove plants and debris from all watercraft, trailers and other conveyances,” says Kevin Walters from Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) in his announcement.  The new law is an amendment to Section 41325 of NREWPA (Act 451 of 1994) and affects all watercraft, trailers, and other conveyances used to move watercraft.

Boaters are now required to not only remove all plants from their boats and trailers and other conveyances, they must also remove drain plugs and drain bilges, ballast tanks, and live wells.  The DEQ also reminds anglers of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Order 245. Essentially, it says that it is unlawful to release baitfish in any waters of the state, collecting fish as bait can only be done on an inland lake and used where it is caught. Baitfish can only be released back into the original location, i.e. the same stream or lake where they were caught. The best practices is to dispose of baitfish on the land or in the trash.

New invasive species are usually moved from lake to lake with the help of humans.  By being diligent humans, we can help stop the spread of aquatic invasive species and protect one of Michigan’s greatest resources – our waters.

After each outing

  • INSPECT and CLEAN your boats, trailers, and watersport gear;
  • DRAIN live wells, bilges, and compartments - pull all drain plugs;
  • DRY boats and gear to catch the unseen hitchhikers; and
  • DISPOSE of plants and bait properly with every use, and remember anything caught and released goes back where you caught it.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer boat inspector at your lake you can learn more about how to from the Michigan Clean Boats, Clean Waters website at You can also learn about ways you can help others to do the same thing and become a Clean Boats Clean Waters Volunteer Hero. Just click on the button that says, “Join the Fight.”

To learn more about invasive organisms and invasive aquatic plants contact MSU Extension Natural Resources educators who are working across Michigan to provide aquatic invasive species educational programming and assistance. You can contact an educator through MSU Extension’s “Find an Expert” search tool using the keywords “Natural Resources” or “Water Quality.”

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