Boat Design and Invasive Species


How a boat is designed can influence its ability to transport invasive species. Boats can be designed to:

  • Minimize colonization areas (cap areas)
  • Smooth areas
  • Through hull fittings
  • Improve drainage, venting
  • Reverse pumping

In a January 2015 summit with aquatic invasive species specialists and boat manufacturers, the specialists ranked the following by risk by transport:

  • Anchors/rode and lockers
  • Storage tanks (ballast, raw water, gray water)
  • Bilge water (deck drainage, compartmentalized)
  • Intake systems (strainers, seacocks, through hull fitting placement)
  • Live wells
  • Trim tabs
  • Generators
  • Air conditions
  • Boarding ladders

Boat manufacturers and promoting standards for boat design and construction to minimize the ability of watercraft to transport aquatic invasive species. Industry is developing standards and promoting the following best management practices*:


Design and Construction:

  • Improve visual and physical access to areas subject to inspection and decontamination
  • Design wells, and other areas, for optimum drainage
  • Consider implementing external flushing ports
  • Weld strakes and keels (specifically recommended to deter the attachment of invasive mussels)

Systems and Components:

  • Simplified flush inlet fittings
  • Marking through-hull fittings
  • Filtration devices


  • Include AIS supplements in owner’s manuals
  • Standardize connections (e.g. common garden hose)
  • Investigate integrated strainer/flushing technologies
  • Test engines to current decontamination procedures for adverse effects


  • Incorporate labeled AIS flush ports or openings
  • Add standardized hose fitting at flush opening (i.e. garden hose)
  • Where possible, avoid square edges. Rounded designs prevent corners that may trap organic materials.

*Extracted from the draft Boat Design and Construction in Consideration of Aquatic Invasive Species report by the American Boat and Yacht Council (March 2016).