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Arizona boaters: prepare to clean, drain and dry

PHOENIX —The Arizona Game and Fish Department reminds boaters to “clean, drain and dry” – and especially decontaminate — their watercraft and equipment before exiting listed waters containing aquatic invasive species (AIS).

This reminder is particularly important for out-of-town visitors who moor their boats at AIS-affected waters and are preparing to head out of state.

Boaters are required to comply with all AIS regulations of the respective states in which they are traveling, as well as those of their final destination. Many states require that watercraft must stop for inspection, which may include both motorized and non-motorized boats. If you see signs that indicate that an inspection station is open, please stop and have your watercraft inspected.

To ensure a smooth process at inspection stations while traveling, AZGFD has authorized providers to perform free inspections and decontaminations for those with boats that have been on AIS-infested waters.

Fill out a decontamination request or call the Department’s AIS Program at (623) 236-7608. We recommend scheduling 2-3 weeks in advance of departure for best availability.

Most of the waters in the western U.S. are free from invasive zebra and quagga mussels due to watercraft inspection and decontamination programs. The potential economic and recreational impact of invasion in these places would be devastating to the west. “As boaters, it is crucial to take responsibility and to have your boat inspected and decontaminated to protect the places that we love,” AZGFD Aquatic Invasive Species Program Coordinator Erin Raney said. “It’s a big job, but with everyone pitching in, we can stop the spread of AIS into new waters.”

Aquatic Invasive Species are non-native species that are often unintentionally introduced by human movement. They do not have predators outside of their native range, and are able to outcompete native species. These animals, plants, and even pathogens that cause disease in native wildlife can be invisible to the naked eye, making them even more difficult to control. Once introduced, they can alter and disrupt ecosystems, and cost millions of dollars to keep water and power infrastructure clear for delivery. These infestations directly affect your wallet by increasing the cost of water and power.

Stop the spread of AIS and keep our waters clean and beautiful for ourselves and future generations. Under Arizona law, boaters slipped and moored for 6 or more consecutive days must schedule an inspection and decontamination before transport. All watercraft and equipment leaving an AIS listed water must always use the steps below when leaving that waterbody.

Clean boats, waders, anchors, and equipment, by removing mud, plants, and attached animals such as snails.
Drain all residual water from engines and motors, ballast tanks, live wells, and bait wells. Pull your bilge plug(s) and leave out during transport.
Dry all equipment that gets wet such as life jackets, ropes, buoys, etc.

See more information on Arizona’s Aquatic Invasive Species Program. For interstate travel, be sure to contact your local state AIS authorities for any additional questions on local regulation compliance.