Coast Guard Auxiliary Joins The Fight Against Aquatic Nuisance Species
by Wayne Spivak, ADSO-CS 1SR, United States Coast Guard Auxiliary
We're at war, and you're probably
not even aware of the enemy. I'm sure you don't even know that the
enemy has been here for years, and that their foothold is growing
stronger than ever. The enemy has been dubbed the ANS.
Aquatic Nuisance Species
Aquatic nuisance species (ANS)
(which are also non-indigenous species (NIS)) are marine animals that
have been introduced into non-native or foreign eco-systems. The
separate classification of ANS marks a significant difference between
NIS animals and ANS animals.
While NIS animals, whose
introduction into the eco-systems of our waters sometimes has had
positive economic and/or ecological impact, those of the variety which
have been called ANS, have not. An example of positive introduction of
a species is the Japanese oyster on the Pacific Coast of North
America. These animals have formed the basis of a strong, vibrant aqua
cultural economic boom.
However, the introduction of the
zebra mussel has had disastrous results. This species out-competes
native mussels in the Great Lakes for food and location. The rate at
which this animal reproduces has caused millions of dollars in damage
to boats, power plants and water supplies by encrusting and ultimately
decreasing or closing off intake pipes.
Introduction - Ballast Water
The majority of NIS animals are
introduced into our country's eco-system through ballast water.
Hundreds of thousands of gallons of fresh, brackish or open ocean
water has been used by vessels as ballast. This ballast is then dumped
into our ports.
Bacteria, small mussels, marine
plant life, and fish are found in the ballast water. However, these
NIS are just that - non-native species. Many ANS species and NIS are
found in a single commercial vessel.
So how does this impact the
recreational boater? Part of the NISA was the requirement that
regulations be promulgated for the prevention and control of zebra
mussels and other aquatic nuisance species from spreading via the
millions of recreational boats used in the United States. Again, NISA
tasked the United States Coast Guard with this mission.
Let's take the zebra mussel. These
pesky and potentially dangerous ANS are also very resilient and
innovative. They are like relatives that come to stay, and never
leave. Once a marine vessel, be it a boat, a trailer, a SCUBA tank
comes in contact with a zebra mussel, that mussel attaches itself to
the item. These animals will live for more than 4 days out of water!
So, if you trailer your boat from
one body of water to another, and don't take precautions, you can
potentially be introducing this pest to a new environment. And it's
not just trail boaters who need to be concerned. Here is a list of
potential carriers of these pests:
recreational anglers (fisherman)
boats (trailer and non-trailer
sail boats (all types including
Here are some general guidelines
on protecting the environment from ANS infestation.
Inspect all equipment that has
been in contact with the water for "hitchhiking" organisms. Search
out, and remove any animals or plant materials that might be
clinging to the equipment.
All equipment should be dried
for at least 5 days before placing it into another body of water.
Use of hot water and
high-pressured water is suggested to remove any organisms.
Never release live bait taken
from one body of water, into another.
PWC: All engines should be run
for 5 to 10 seconds after removing them from the water to blow out
water and vegetation from intake and exhaust manifolds and pipes.
Clean rudders, fishing
equipment, inspect and bathe your dog(s).
- Drain all water from your equipment.