New Legislation Strengthens Aquatic Invasive Species Spread Prevention Efforts

A man inspects his boat for aquatic invasive species

Earlier this month, Governor Scott signed into law a bill regarding the transport of aquatic nuisance species in the state of Vermont. The transport of aquatic plants, aquatic plant parts, zebra mussels, and quagga mussels has been prohibited in the state since 2010 but this list has now been expanded to include Asian clams, spiny and fishhook waterflea, and rusty crayfish. The new legislation also ups the ante on aquatic invasive species (AIS) spread prevention and puts the onus on boat owners to help protect Vermont’s waterways. Below is a brief summary of the regulations most relevant to AIS spread prevention enacted by this law but the entire act can be found on the Vermont Legislature’s website.

  • Boat operators are required to inspect their boat, trailer, vehicle, and equipment, and remove all aquatic plants, aquatic plant parts, or other aquatic nuisance species, before entering and after leaving a waterbody.
  • Boat operators must drain bilges, livewells, and any other internal compartments after leaving a waterbody.
  • All drain plugs or other devices used for draining water from the boat when transporting the vessel must remain out during vessel transport.
  • Where State authorized watercraft inspection and decontamination stations are maintained and open, and when an authorized boat inspector is present, it is a violation to refuse inspection and decontamination services.
  • Violators of Vermont’s AIS transport laws are subject to fines up to $1,000.

For boaters and other water users the most crucial takeaway from this new piece of legislation is to remove any visible aquatic plants, aquatic plant parts, or other aquatic nuisance species from their boats and equipment as well as to remove drain plugs before transporting watercraft. Keeping vessels and equipment drained, clean, and dry will ensure compliance with the new regulations and will help protect Vermont’s lakes, rivers, and ponds from unwanted exotic pests.