Post by Jenny Seifert, UWEX Aquatic Invasive Species Outreach Specialist (now at https://www.nceas.ucsb.edu/)
Water left in livewells, bait buckets and bilges is a vehicle for the spread of fish diseases and aquatic invasive species between lakes. That is why draining all equipment before leaving a boat launch is required in Wisconsin – a requirement that will be underscored at the upcoming statewide Drain Campaign and its hashtag #JustDrainIt.
The annual campaign will take place this weekend, June 9-11. Volunteers will be talking with anglers and boaters at landings around the state and, in some cases, handing out free ice packs as a substitute to keeping fish in water.
New to the Drain Campaign this year is the #JustDrainIt social media blitz, a coordinated way for anglers to help share its message. If you use social media, help spread the word about the importance of draining livewells and other equipment by posting photos and messages using #JustDrainIt.
Wisconsin law prohibits the transport of invasive species because they have negative impacts on our aquatic ecosystems and our economy. Draining your water and, instead, using ice – which many anglers argue does a better job of preserving the flavor of their fish anyway – is the best way to comply with the law and help keep our lakes and fisheries healthy.
The following steps are required by law to prevent aquatic invasive species.
- 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 when fishing with them 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.
Learn more about invasive species and their impacts to Wisconsin’s waters and economy.