Of the species listed under the Endangered Species act, 42% are listed as a result of the deliberate or accidental introduction of non-native species into a new habitat.
Both plants and animals are spread in a variety of ways: through commercial shipping ballast water, introduction through aquarium water disposed of incorrectly, through plants and animals from landscaping/nurseries, introduction from hitchhiking on cargoes, and transported by recreational boaters.
The introduction of non-native species into Washington's waters is a problem which affects everyone. Introducing non-native species into Washington can upset the balance of the ecosystem, hurting the environment. When transported into new waters, these organisms proliferate, displacing native species, damage the water resource, damage the sports and commercial fisheries, damage Washington's large shellfish industry, pose a threat to industrial and public drinking water supplies, can weaken and damage banks and levees by burrowing into them, as well as prey on salmon and sturgeon eggs.
Always do a walk-around inspection after cleaning the prop area and bottom of the hull at the launch area before leaving with your boat. Where available, pressure washing the hull and motor parts exposed to the water is advised. Note that some species especially zebra mussels get into tight areas and may be over looked.
You can help prevent the introduction and spread of non-native species from one body of water to another.
- Inspect your boat and remove aquatic plants or animals before you leave any body of water.
- Flush raw-water cooling systems and clean sea strainers before moving your boat from one body of water to another.
- Empty bait buckets and remove any plant fragments from bait wells, fishing gear, trailers, dive gear or props. Dispose of the plant fragments on land, in a garbage receptacle.
- Drain water from your motor, live wells and bilge.
- Wash your boat before putting it into a new body of water
- Report any new infestation of non-native aquatic species to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.