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DEC: Boaters can prevent spread of invasive species by cleaning watercraft

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is appealing to residents involved in water sports to sanitize their watercrafts and gear, as a preventive measure against the invasion of local waters by harmful aquatic species.


The department insists on draining, cleaning, and drying boats and trailers, and disinfecting fishing gear prior to entering waters. To aid and educate the public, over 200 boat stewards will be positioned at boat launches and decontamination stations across the state by Memorial Day weekend, identifiable by their blue vests.

In 2022, boat stewards inspected more than 200,000 boats and intercepted over 8,000 invasive plants and animals, including hydrilla, a difficult-to-control species that disrupts aquatic ecosystems and water recreation.

To combat this and other invasive species, the DEC recommends thorough cleaning of all boats and equipment, draining of compartments holding water, and leaving the cleaned items to dry for five to seven days under warm conditions before entering a different water body. The DEC provides further guidelines on their website, which also features a map indicating boat steward locations statewide.