Preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species at fishing tournaments

Best Management Practices have been developed to assist fishing tournament organizers in controlling the spread of aquatic invasive species.

Professional walleye tournament in Sault Ste Marie, Michigan. Photo credit: Ron Kinnunen.

Professional walleye tournament in Sault Ste Marie, Michigan. Photo credit: Ron Kinnunen.

Michigan Sea Grant and Michigan State University Extension made a presentation on preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species through fishing tournaments at the 2014 Lake Huron Fisheries Workshop in Cedarville. For the past several years, Michigan Sea Grant has collaborated with the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network on developing best management practices with major national fishing tournament organizers for use at their events.

Professional fishing tournaments attract anglers from many states. These anglers, over the course of the year, participate in multiple tournaments, which put them at great risk of moving aquatic invasive species to new geographic locations. Additionally, fishing tournament organizers use a variety of equipment to handle the fish during check in that is also at risk of spreading aquatic invasive species to new geographic locations. Through the efforts of the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network, best management practices have been developed that can be incorporated into professional fishing tournaments to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.

It is of critical importance to focus on professional fishing tournaments. Tournament equipment and anglers’ boats can spread aquatic invasive species to tournament locations since tournament anglers travel frequently and quickly between water bodies, and contaminated equipment can spread aquatic invasive species across a large number of water bodies. The Great Lakes Sea Grant Network is working in collaboration with tournament organizers to provide information and resources that have low impact on tournament operations, but high impact results to protect the environment and demonstrate that fishing tournaments are willing to stop the spread of aquatic invasive species.

Four different best management practices were developed and were rated as good, better, best, or exceptional. Good consisted of inspecting boats, trailers and all equipment, and removal of any debris, vegetation, or aquatic organisms. Remove water from the bilge, live wells and the motor, and record efforts. Better included inspect, remove, and drain, and, in addition, a cold rinse to the boats, trailers, and equipment with a garden hose. Then disinfect with a mild bleach solution (0.5 oz. / quart of water) or salt solution (2/3 cup / gallon of water) on all equipment. Best included inspect, remove, drain, decontaminate and then use a high pressure washer in a wash line for boats and trailers. Exceptional includes inspect, remove, drain, decontaminate and then use a hot pressure rinse with pressure washer with water above 140 degrees Fahrenheit in a wash line for boats and trailers.

Of course, recreational anglers should also use these best management practices even if they are not participating in a fishing tournament. That way, we can all do our part to avoid the spread of aquatic invasive species.

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