Civil fines for people caught violating the state’s aquatic invasive species (AIS) laws doubled on July 1, when new, tougher laws took effect, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced.
Minnesota law prohibits the possession or transport of any AIS in the state. AIS include zebra mussels, Eurasian water milfoil and spiny water fleas.
Earlier this month, DNR officials announced that the AIS violation rate among Minnesota boaters and anglers is at an unacceptable rate of 20 percent.
“The larger fines should help people realize that this is a serious problem, and we need everyone to do their part to prevent the spread of AIS,” explained Maj. Phil Meier, DNR Enforcement operations manager.
For example, failure to remove a drain plug while transporting a watercraft will mean a $100 fine, instead of a $50 penalty. The fine for unlawfully possessing and transporting prohibited AIS will increase from $250 to $500.
Other new AIS laws that went into effect July 1 include:
n Boat lifts, docks, swim rafts and other water-related equipment (except boats and other watercraft) that are removed from any water body may not be placed in another water body for at least 21 days. The drying out period is designed to kill any AIS that might be attached to the equipment that are high risk and difficult to clean. (Two zebra mussel introductions occurred last year as a result of water equipment being sold and moved from one water body to another).
n Boat clubs, yacht clubs, marinas and other similar organizations are now considered lake-service providers, requiring permits for the clubs and staff working there. That means they must go through AIS certification training.
To help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species, boaters and anglers are required by law to:
n Clean aquatic plants and animals off boats, trailers and equipment.
n Drain bait buckets, bilges and live wells before leaving any water access.
n Keep drain plugs out while transporting water-related equipment.