American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) Assumes a Role in Preventing the Spread of Aquatic Invasive Species

MLR member Gabriel Jabbour partners with DNR, Brunswick Boats and the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center to push design changes in watercraft to make them less likely to transport Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS.)

American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) Assumes a Role in Preventing the Spread of Aquatic Invasive Species

By Jeff Forester

After a number of years of advocacy by MLR member Gabriel Jabbour, the American Boat and Yacht Council, ABYC, has taken up its role in helping to prevent the spread of Aquatic Invasive Species, writing, “ABYC hosted the AIS Summit to engage major stakeholders in an in-depth dialogue regarding prevention, inspection and decontamination of boats.

The Summit was held January 27-28 at the South Point Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. Attendees focused on identifying and vetting opportunities related to boat design and construction, component/system design and installation, engine and propulsion systems, and trailer design and construction.

Said Gabriel Jabbour, owner of Tonka Bay Marina on Lake Minnetonka, “It is exciting to see the private sector, and ABYC in particular, take up their particular role in protecting the resource.”

Minnesota law states that it is illegal to move aquatic plants, designated aquatic invasive animals, or water on public roadways. Even the water in bait buckets and live wells must be drained (and replaced with non-lake freshwater in the case of bait.)

This is the basis behind Clean, Drain and Dry. Some invasive species, like spiny water flea, starry stonewort bulbils, or young zebra mussel veligers, are so small they are hard to see with the naked eye, but they can be transported in even small amounts of water.

The problem is residual water, that little bit of water that remains in the bilge or live well because of the way the drain is constructed. Wakeboard boats that fill ballast bladders inside the boat to increase the weight, and therefore the wake of the boat, pontoon boat lifting strakes, the hollow tubes attached to the pontoon to help them plane at a slower speed and other boat design features present a risk for the spread of aquatic invasive species because this water can transport AIS, even if the owner is following the law.

In 2015, Mr. Jabbour funded a research project at the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center to investigate which types of boats held the most residual water, and how likely that water was to transport AIS. Brunswick Boats and MN DNR also supported the research. Graduate student and DNR AIS Watercraft Inspection Coordinator Adam Doll studied a variety of watercraft taken from Lake Minnetonka and Gull Lake. Mr. Doll took water samples from different compartments, nooks and crannies, and then looked for zebra mussel veligers in the samples. This research helped drive the recommendations of ABYC.

ABYC’s design protocols will help boat designers and builders take specific measures to prevent the spread of AIS. "The more you can minimize the water that's captured inside, whether it's an engine or a live well or a ballast tank, then the greater the reduction of risk on moving veligers alive from place to place," said Doll in a November KTSP news story.

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