Aquatic Invasive Species Laws
Vermont Freshwater Fishing
On June 8, 2017, the Vermont Legislature enacted new rules regarding aquatic invasive species. The changes include the following:
- Prohibited Species: In addition to zebra mussels, quagga mussels, and all aquatic plants, the possession of rusty crayfish, Asian clam, spiny water flea, and fishhook water flea is now prohibited.Vessel Inspections: All watercraft operators are now required to inspect their own vessels and trailers and remove and dispose of all aquatic plants and aquatic invasive species prior to launching and upon leaving a state water.
- Draining of Vessels: Prior to leaving state waters, all watercraft operators are now required to drain their vessels, trailers, and all other equipment of water, including water in live wells, ballast tanks, and bilge areas. When transporting vessels on the road, all drain plugs, bailers, valves, and other devices that are used to control the draining of water must be removed or placed in the open position. Bait buckets, water hauling, and emergency-response vehicles are exempted from this requirement.
- Mandatory Boat Inspections: Boat inspections are now mandatory whenever a Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) authorized inspection station is present, is open/staffed, and one’s vessel is identified as requiring inspection. Refusing to comply with a mandatory inspection and decontamination is now considered a violation of state law.
- NOTE: the term “vessel” means any type of watercraft that can be used as a means of transportation on water, including boats, canoes, kayaks, paddleboards, personal watercraft, and so on.
Aquatic Invasive Species Identification
It is illegal to possess or transport the following aquatic invasive species found in Vermont:
A new invasive crayfish species that can displace native crayfish and destroy aquatic habitat has been found in Vermont. Rusty crayfish can reach 5 inches in length and can be identified by dark reddish spots on either side of their shell and large, strong, smooth claws that can be a brownish-olive color or a reddish-brown color with black or orange tips.
Alison Fox, University of Florida, Bugwood.org
Spiny Water Flea
Note: Transporting any aquatic plant or aquatic plant part, zebra mussel, or quagga mussel on the outside of a vehicle, boat, personal watercraft, trailer, or other equipment is illegal. Violators are subject to a penalty of up to $1,000.