By Doug Leier, NDG&F Dept.
I wasn’t surprised when health officials reported recently that North Dakota residents were mostly complying with social distancing guidelines. We’ve got a pretty good track record when it comes to doing what we can to protect ourselves.
The same could be said for anglers and boaters complying with aquatic nuisance species rules and regulations. We want to protect our fishing and water resources.
With many boaters traveling back and forth from infested waters in North Dakota and surrounding states, there is always a risk of ANS hitchhiking on equipment or in water.
The key word is “risk,” which means it’s not a given that ANS will spread into or within the state, if everyone complies with the rules and regulations.
Here’s a reminder of some of the rules established to help prevent the spread of ANS in North Dakota. Many of these regulations are also in place in surrounding states.
Plants and animals
- All aquatic vegetation must be removed from all equipment before leaving a body of water.
- Live aquatic vegetation may not be transported, including into North Dakota.
- Stocking of any live fish, live fish eggs, live amphibians, or other live aquatic organism into any North Dakota water is illegal unless a license or permit is issued.
- Dumping live aquatic organisms in the water, on the ice during winter, or on shore is not permitted.
- Water must be drained from boats and all other equipment when out of the water or upon entering the state.
- All drain plugs that may hold back water must be removed, and water-draining devices must be open on all equipment during any out-of-water transport.
- Transporting water that is still in livewells on fishing boats is one of the more common violations that game wardens still encounter.
- Live aquatic bait may not be imported into the state. Purchase from North Dakota bait vendors to ensure that the bait and water is not harboring ANS or fish diseases.
- Live aquatic bait, when in the state, may be transported in water containers of 5 gallons or less in volume. The only exception is in Class I ANS waters (currently the Red River, Lake Ashtabula, and Sheyenne River downstream of Lake Ashtabula), where all water must be drained from bait containers before leaving the shore, or as boats are removed from the water.
- A new law this year requires all motorized watercraft not licensed in this state, and that operate on North Dakota waters, must obtain a valid, nonrefundable aquatic nuisance species sticker.
- The sticker is $15 per calendar year and needs to be placed on the starboard side of the watercraft within 6 inches of the registration number and decal. Stickers take about five business days to receive. A receipt from when the sticker was purchased is valid documentation until the sticker arrives in the mail.
In the end, nobody wants to intentionally spread or introduce ANS, and game wardens would much rather see compliance with the laws than write tickets.
Featured Photo: Zebra Mussels can cover docks, boat lifts and more important structures like water outtakes and pumps on infested waters. They also change the biology of a flow and can greatly alter fishing in a matter of a few seasons. NDG&F Photo.
Doug Leier is an Outreach Biologist with the North Dakota Game & Fish Department.