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New program aims to prevent spread of aquatic invasive species by transported watercraft

Quagga mussel contamination of motorboat propeller
Oregon Marine Board
Quagga mussel contamination of motorboat propeller

SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission has initiated a new program to prevent delays during the transport of watercraft destined for the states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana.

The program, “Call Before You Haul,” provides a toll-free phone number boat transporters can call prior to transporting watercraft from outside the Pacific Northwest to one of the aforementioned states. The program is currently being piloted in 10 states and is intended to be expanded to all states in 2022.

By calling the toll-free number, 1-844-311-4873, prior to hauling, and providing some basic information about the watercraft being transported, the destination state representative will reach out to boat transporters and provide them with information to facilitate and expedite the watercraft inspection process, and if needed, decontaminate.

Proactively arranging watercraft inspections can prevent costly and timely delays at inspection stations, or if boat transporters are intercepted hauling an infested vessel by law enforcement. All four states are communicating with one another and working with one of the four states will expedite transport across two or more Pacific Northwest states.

All Pacific Northwest states have regulations that make it illegal to transport aquatic invasive species (dead or alive) within their respective states, including penalties up to, and including, a no-bond felony.

Much of the ongoing spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS) to inland waters throughout North America can be attributed to the overland movement of watercraft that can be towed on trailers or atop vehicles. Invasive species can be carried in bilge water, live wells, and bait buckets as well as on boat and motor exteriors and trailers.

Every time a boat is transported overland after use in an infested waterway, there is the possibility that it will transfer aquatic invasive species to uninfested waterways. 

In addition to reaching out to boat transport companies, PSMFC is working directly with Departments of Transportation in 10 states (as part of the pilot program) to notify them of the toll-free number and make this information available on their permitting websites.

Call Before You Haul is intended to prevent unnecessary delays for boat transporters and their customers and help to ensure these companies will not be violating state, or federal, laws pertaining to unlawful transport of aquatic invasive species (e.g., quagga or zebra mussels). 

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife manages border inspection stations where all boats being transported are required to stop. Inspections generally take only 10 minutes and go a long way to help protect Oregon’s waterways. Fees from waterway access permits, out-of-state aquatic invasive species prevention permits and motorboat registrations through the Oregon State Marine Board help pay for inspection stations and other prevention efforts. 

For more information on aquatic invasive species in the West, see: www.westernais.org.

Visit myODFW for more information about inspection stations in Oregon and required permits. 

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Barney Lerten

Barney is the digital content director for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Barney here.

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