Sailors play an important role in protecting Minnesota waters from aquatic invasive species (AIS).

Invasive species impact sailors. Invasive plants, such as mats of starry stonewort, curly-leaf pondweed, or Eurasian watermilfoil can get stuck to the rudder or centerboard, making navigation difficult. Zebra mussels can attach to sailboat hulls, impacting the boat’s performance in the water. Invasive species change how we use and enjoy Minnesota waters.

Sailors can unintentionally transport aquatic invasive species. Seeds, eggs, larvae, small animals, plant fragments and water can be trapped inside your equipment. For example:

  • Microscopic larvae of zebra mussels can be in the water of the bilge, ballast tanks, and cockpit.
  • Aquatic plants can entangle on equipment.
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  • Mud on anchors or ropes may contain small invasive species, such as zebra mussels, starry stonewort bulbils, or faucet snails.

To help protect Minnesota waters and comply with state law, here are some best practices to reduce your risk of spreading invasive species from one water body to another: 

Before Your Trip

Plan your visit and gear. If you are planning to go to multiple locations:

Always arrive cleaned and drained. Double-check all gear and equipment to ensure it is cleaned and drained before heading out. Always drain water from sailboats and equipment away from a waterbody.

Know the laws:

  • It is illegal to transport aquatic plants or prohibited invasive species, dead or alive.
  • It is illegal to launch watercraft or place a trailer in the water if it has aquatic plants or prohibited invasive species attached, or water present in compartments.
  • It is illegal to transport water away from Minnesota lakes and rivers. You must remove all drain plugs and all water must be drained before transporting equipment off the access site or riparian property.

Know what to look for. Learn how to identify aquatic invasive species.

After You Are Done on the Water

Take these required steps before leaving the lake, river or wetland:

  • Clean your sailboat and any recreational equipment to remove plants, small animals, mud, and debris. Check the hull, centerboard or keel, and rudder for vegetation or attached invasive species.
  • Drain all water. This includes the bilge, ballast tanks, and cockpit. Leave plugs out during transport.

Consider these additional recommendations. Some invasive species are small and difficult to see. To remove or kill them, take one or more of the following precautions before moving to another lake or river:

  • Decontaminate your boat, equipment and gear by rinsing with hot water at 120 degrees for 2 minutes or 140 degrees for 10 seconds. If needed, spray with high pressure to remove attached debris.
  • Spray your equipment with high-pressure water.
  • Rinse your gear with tap water.
  • Dry your gear for 5 days before using it in another lake or river, whenever possible.

Report suspicious aquatic plants and animals to the DNR. Take a picture or collect a specimen, note the exact location, and contact your DNR Invasive Species Specialist or log in and submit a report through EDDMapS.

Learn More

Learn about how to prevent the spread of invasive species while doing other activities on Minnesota waters.


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