The Minnesota walleye fishing opener was this past Saturday, May 9 in waters across the state. While fishing is a great way to get outdoors and enjoy the best of the land of 10, 000 lakes, there are some precautions that need to be taken before and after fishing to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.
What are aquatic invasive species?
Aquatic invasive species (AIS) are aquatic plants or animals that are not native to Minnesota and cause environmental, economic or human harm. Minnesota lakes, streams and rivers are threatened by aquatic invasive species including zebra mussels, spiny waterflea, rusty crayfish, Eurasian watermilfoil and others.
Minnesota law required actions
The State of Minnesota requires anyone boating, fishing or recreating in Minnesota to protect our waters by following state aquatic invasive species laws.
Boaters, fishers and other water recreators must:
- Clean all visible aquatic plants, zebra mussels and other prohibited invasive species from watercraft, trailers and other water-related equipment before leaving any water access or shoreline.
- Drain water-related equipment (boat, ballast tanks, portable bait containers, motor) and drain bilge, livewell and baitwell by removing drain plugs before leaving a water access or shoreline property. Keep drain plugs out and water-draining devices open while transporting watercraft.
- Dispose of unwanted bait, including minnows, leeches, and worms, in the trash. It is illegal to release live bait into a waterbody or release aquatic animals from one waterbody to another. If you want to keep your live bait, you must refill the bait container with bottled or tap water.
In addition to following the State of Minnesota required actions, here are other tips for preventing the spread of aquatic invasive plants and animals:
- Remove aquatic invasive species from your watercraft and fishing gear after use. Since some species are small and difficult to see, it is best to take precautions even if you are not sure invasive species are present.
- Spray watercraft and gear with high-pressure water to remove or kill the invasive species.
- Rinse watercraft and gear with very hot water. Water temperatures of 120 degrees Fahrenheit for two minutes or 140 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 10 seconds will kill zebra mussels and other aquatic invasive species.
- Report new aquatic invasive species infestations by calling your local DNR aquatic invasive species contact at 651-259-5828.
Volunteer to prevent aquatic invasive species
You can also prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species by volunteering with Hennepin County to identify species in your area. Volunteer applications are due by May 15, 2015 and the training course is limited to 30 volunteers. Go to http://www.hennepin.us/business/work-with-henn-co/aquatic-invasive-species to learn more and apply or contact Tony Brough at firstname.lastname@example.org or 612-348-4378.
Fish responsibly. As you enjoy the Minnesota fishing this season, remember to look for aquatic invasive species and keep your gear clear of them. We are all responsible for keeping Minnesota waters clean.
This information was provided by Hennepin County Environment and Energy Environmental Education and Outreach.