Table of Contents

Download the PDF Version

Invasive Aquatic Plants and Animals

Michigan waters are threatened by non-native, invasive, aquatic plants and animals, such as zebra mussels and Eurasian watermilfoil. These species and others are harmful to recreational boating and can cause extensive economic and natural resource damage.

Effective 2019, there are new requirements to stop the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species.

  • A person shall not:
    • Launch or transport watercraft or trailers unless they are free of aquatic organisms, including plants.
    • Transport a watercraft without removing all drain plugs and draining all water from bilges, ballast tanks, and live wells.
    • Release unused bait into the water.
  • Boaters should learn to identify non-native species that they may encounter and take precautions to prevent the spread of these species.

  • Inspect boats, trailers, and equipment, and remove all mud, debris, and aquatic plant material from trailers and watercraft before launching or retrieving a watercraft. Use a hose or power washer when available, and dry all equipment thoroughly before leaving the access area.
  • Drain live wells, bilges, and all water from boats before leaving the access site. Disinfect live wells and bilges with a bleach solution (1/2 cup bleach to 5 gallons of water) when possible. Fish diseases and microscopic life stages of aquatic invasive species can be hiding in seemingly clean water, so draining is an important step.
  • Dispose of unused bait in the trash. Do not release bait into the water. Release of bait and minnows can lead to the unintended introduction of aquatic invasive species.
  • Do not transfer fish to waterbodies other than where they were caught. This helps prevent the spread of both aquatic invasive species and fish diseases.

For more tips, information, or to report an invasive species, visit

To prevent spreading aquatic nuisance species, inspect your trailer and remove any plants and animals you see before leaving the area.