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Fewer boaters are violating laws aimed at stopping the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS), says a new state Department of Natural Resources report.

Fewer violators in 2013, but aquatic invasive species still big problem

Fewer boaters are violating laws aimed at stopping the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS), says a new state Department of Natural Resources report.

That’s the good news. Here’s the bad: fully 20 percent of boaters are still breaking the law.

The information is included in the DNR’s 2013 AIS annual report, released on March 28. It can be accessed online at www.mndnr.gov/AIS.

“It is good news that more people are understanding what the law is and they are following the law,” says Ann Pierce, the DNR’s Ecological and Water Resources Section manager. “But we still have one in five boaters, based on our roadside checks, that are not meeting what the law requires.”

It is a marked improvement. In 2012, 31 percent of boats were cited for AIS violations after being inspected at roadside check stations by DNR conservation officers.

“We want zero violations,” says Pierce, using a meme that the DNR apparently hopes to drill into Minnesotans’ heads. “We want zero new infestations caused by water-related equipment transporting AIS. We really want to think about getting to zero.”

It is impossible to conclude from the lowered violation rate that there also are fewer invasive species infestations, Pierce says. “There is some lag time in when we discover where the invasive species are,” she says. “So it is really hard to correlate that from a decrease in violations.”

The DNR this year plans to step up efforts to enforce anti-AIS laws aimed at stemming the spread of zebra mussels, Eurasian milfoil and curly-leaf pondweed and other non-native species that can destroy native water habitat.

Among other facts included in the 2013 AIS annual report:

  • DNR watercraft inspectors conducted 123,000 inspections in 2013—an increase of nearly 62 percent since 2011.
  • More than 1,000 lake service providers have received AIS training and permits.
  • The DNR collaborated with its Iowa counterparts to install an electric barrier on Lower Gar Lake in Iowa, a move intended to thwart Asian carp from migrating into southwestern Minnesota waters.
  • In 2013, enforcement and watercraft inspection represented the biggest chunk of the DNR’s $8.5 million anti-AIS program budget — 43 percent.

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