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Water: Clean Boating Act

Aquatic Nuisance Species Basics

What are Aquatic Nuisance Species?

Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS) are organisms (animal, microbial, or plant) that disrupt the ecological stability of infested inland (e.g., rivers and lakes), estuarine, or marine waters. Beyond doing ecological damage, the infestation may impair the recreational, commercial, and agricultural uses of the water body. To learn more about ANS, please visit the ANS Task Force

Can boating activities help spread ANS?

Unfortunately, yes - ANS may “hitchhike” from an infested water body to an uninfested water body.  ANS may hitchhike in a number of different ways:

  • Attaching to portions of your boat (e.g., hull, rudder, anchor) or trailer
  • Attaching to recreational equipment such as fishing gear, water floats, and snorkeling equipment
  • Being carried in the bilge, ballast tank, or livewell

Are ANS present where I boat?

Many water bodies have become infested with ANS.  To assist boaters identify potentially infested waters, we have developed an ANS Locator Map

Is there anything I can do?

Many state agencies recommend inspecting boats, trailers, and recreational equipment before use and after use; removing any attached plants or animals; and, if possible, disposing of them in a manner such that they cannot reenter the water.

If you are planning to move your boat to a different water body, generally recommended practices include thoroughly cleaning, draining, and drying your boat prior to transporting it to a new location.  Additionally, the ANS Task Force has developed guidance on how to help prevent the spread of ANS. 

A growing number of states have established regulations to prevent the spread of ANS.  Please contact the agency responsible for administering boating programs in your state to learn about existing or new requirements. For a list of some state contacts, visit the resources tab on the Clean Boating Act homepage.  


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