Make your ripple effects positive for lakes this boating season

Post by Jenny Seifert, UWEX Aquatic Invasive Species Outreach Specialist

Ready for boating and fishing season? Whether you are a die-hard aquaphile or just a weekend warrior, now is a good time to brush up on the things you can do to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS) and protect Wisconsin’s waters.

As a social species, our actions have ripple effects. We influence each other, determining collectively what is “normal” behavior. When it comes to stopping aquatic hitchhikers, there are multiple ways our actions can contribute to making cleaning and draining our boats and equipment the thing everyone just does.

Whether you’re an angler, boater or both, your actions to stop aquatic hitchhikers can have positive ripple effects.

Be the change

Your individual actions do make a difference. As such, the most basic thing you can do is be the change – that is, take the prevention steps every time you visit the water and model that behavior to others. Let’s review the steps:

  • INSPECT boats, trailers and equipment.
  • REMOVE all attached aquatic plants and animals.
  • DRAIN all water from boats, vehicles, and equipment, including livewells and buckets containing fish.
  • NEVER MOVE plants or live fish away from a waterbody.
  • DISPOSE of unwanted bait in the trash
  • BUY minnows from a Wisconsin bait dealer. Use leftover minnows only on the same body of water or on other waters as long as no lake or river water or other fish have been added to their container.

Share the message

A Clean Boats Clean Waters volunteer talks with a boater about how he can stop aquatic hitchhikers.

Become a Clean Boats, Clean Waters (CBCW) volunteer and help spread the prevention message to fellow lake lovers. This program trains people to teach or remind boaters at landings about how to prevent aquatic invasive species.

This approach is based solidly in social science, which has shown that interpersonal communication is often the best way to encourage people to practice a new behavior. Such peer-to-peer learning is a hallmark of Wisconsin’s AIS prevention efforts, and it is working! Our data are showing the number of boaters who are aware of the prevention steps is growing as a result of this program.

Your local lake association may already have a CBCW program or, if it doesn’t, you can start your own by applying to a WDNR grant. For more information, visit the CBCW website or contact Erin McFarlane, who coordinates the program.

Mobilize others

If you’re involved in a lake association or just need a way to unleash your passion for protecting lakes, there are a couple of statewide campaigns this summer you can get involved in as a volunteer.

First is the Drain Campaign, which takes place June 9th to 11th and is an effort to increase the number of anglers who consistently drain their livewells and other water-collecting equipment, an important step in preventing the spread of invasive species and fish diseases. The campaign encourages the use of ice as a way to keep one’s fish fresh and tasty, complete with ice pack giveaways to thank anglers for their AIS preventing efforts.

Second is the annual Landing Blitz, a coordinated effort to reach boaters during the busiest boating weekend of the year: the fourth of July (well, this year, it actually takes place from June 30th through July 4th). With so many boaters out on the water – and, for some, this may be their only weekend on a boat all year – this campaign is a great way to reach a lot of people, especially those who may not have already heard the prevention message.

Both campaigns utilize the Clean Boats, Clean Waters method to reach anglers and boaters – that is, volunteers greet them at boat landings.

New to both campaigns this year is an effort to build some online buzz around AIS prevention through social media blitzes. If you use social media, you can help spread the word about the importance of aquatic invasive species prevention by posting photos and messages using the hashtag #JustDrainIt for the Drain Campaign or #CleanBoatsCleanWaters for the Landing Blitz.

If you want to get involved in either campaign, contact your local AIS Coordinator.

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