Anglers and Boaters: You are an important partner in preventing the spread of fish diseases and other aquatic nuisance species
Michigan's waters are threatened by numerous nonnative aquatic invasive plants and animals already here, such as the zebra mussel, round goby, sea lamprey, Eurasian ruffe, Eurasian watermilfoil, rusty crayfish, and spiny water flea. A number of species also are knocking at the door, including several species of Asian carp coming up the Chicago diversion that could potentially enter Lake Michigan and snakehead fish that already are found in other Midwest states. These species and others are harmful to recreational fishing and do extensive economic and natural resource damage.
The following illustrations show a few of the most serious aquatic nuisance species in Michigan:
Anglers and boaters can help prevent the spread of fish diseases and other aquatic nuisance species by taking the following steps:
- Clean boats, trailers, and other equipment thoroughly between fishing trips to keep from transporting undesirable fish pathogens and organisms, from one water body to another with special care to clean fishing equipment when you are done fishing known locations of the fish diseases. A light bleach solution (1/2 cup bleach to 5 gallons of water) is an excellent disinfectant for cleaning your equipment. Another new option for disinfecting equipment and boats is Virkon-Aquatic which will be soon available in pre-measured packets. Simply follow the directions for use provided with the disinfectant.
- After cleaning allow boats, trailers, and other equipment to fully dry for 4 to 6 hours in the sun.
- Do not move fish or fish parts from one body of water to another.
- Do not release live bait into any water body.
- Handle fish as gently as possible if you intend to release them and release them as quickly as possible.
- Refrain from hauling the fish for long periods in live wells if you intend to release them.
- Report unusual numbers of dead or dying fish to the local DNR Fisheries Division office (see p. 40 of the fishing guide).
- Educate other anglers about the measure they can take to prevent the spread of fish diseases and other aquatic nuisance species.
To Help Prevent Disease Transfer:
- Disinfect livewells and bilges with a bleach solution (1/2 cup bleach to 5 gallons of water) or Virkon-Aquatic using the soon to be available pre-measured packets and following the manufacturer directions.
- Allow equipment to dry thoroughly before using in a different body of water.
Natural resource managers are concerned about introduction of new species and have set up an Angler's Monitoring Network to report any discoveries. Anglers should save and report unidentified fish to the nearest DNR Operations Service Center. If you have any questions, contact an Operations Service Center or visit www.michigan.gov/anglers-monitoring-network.
Also see Michigan Sea Grant for more information.