Ontario introduces new boating regulations to stop the spread of invasive species

Originally seen on Fish’n Canada’s Week in Review

2022 has brought with it a lot of new regulations, many of which are dedicated to slowing down a wide variety of invasive species that have continued their spread throughout the province.

As part of this goal, January 1st saw the government of Ontario initiate their Boaters Action Plan, a set of new regulations designed to reduce the occurrences of boats accidentally transporting invasive species such as Zebra Mussels from lake to lake.

The new regulations, in their current language, can be found below:

As of January 1st, 2022, Ontario has regulated watercraft (boats, canoes, kayaks) as a carrier of invasive species under the Invasive Species Act.

Boaters are now required to take the following steps before transporting a boat or boat equipment overland:

  • remove or open drain plugs to allow water to drain from the boat or boat equipment
  • take reasonable precautions to remove all aquatic plants (weeds), animals and algae from any boat, boat equipment, vehicle or trailer

Before reaching a launch site or placing a watercraft in any body of water in Ontario, boaters are required to ensure their boat, boating equipment, vehicles or trailers are free of all:

  • aquatic plants
  • animals
  • algae

As many of you are probably thinking, the terms reasonable precautions and free of all seem to conflict. In response, the Ontario government includes that:

These rules recognize that it may not be possible to fully remove all aquatic plants, animals or algae (for example, hidden zebra mussels or small plant fragments in hard to reach locations) when removing the watercraft from the water at the launch site. Boaters can do a more thorough cleaning of their boat, utilizing special equipment, such as pressure washers at a more suitable location, to ensure their boat is completely free of aquatic plants, animals and algae.

Fish’n Canada also had a few opinions on the new regulation:

“An instance in where people need to be extremely careful,” says Angelo Viola “is where if the fishing is tough in one lake, and anglers then decide to hop over to the next lake. Without any pressure washer around, that may lead to problems”.

“Bunk trailers are common for fishing boats” continues Pete Bowman “however, once a boat sits on those bunks, it’s almost impossible to rid any weeds or invasive intruders from them. Even recently crushed dead (by the boat’s weight) Zebra Mussels, for instance, could create an issue.”

“Before you back your empty trailer into the launch,” says Ang “give the carpeted bunks a good wipe with a rag, your snow brush and scraper, etc.”

Ang and Pete both agree that even though this is a vague law, at least if everyone tries their best, it’s pretty much all they can do.

This excerpt was taken from Fish’n Canada’s Week in Review, our weekly recap of all things relevant to the Canadian outdoorsman. For more stories like this, check out the full article below and tune back in every Friday to catch up on everything you missed!