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Locate western States and Provinces Watercraft Inspection Station Contacts HERE.

Click here to access 2024 watercraft inspection and decontamination station information in the western states and Canadian provinces.

How boats transfer aquatic invasive species

Much of the ongoing spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS) to inland waters throughout North America can be attributed to the movement of watercraft that can be towed overland on trailers. Invasive species can be carried in bilge water, live wells, and bait buckets as well as on boat and motor exteriors and trailers. Every time a boat is transported overland after use in an infested waterway, there is the possibility that it will transfer aquatic invasive species to uninfested waterways. Check out our photo gallery to better understand all of the places invasive species can hitch a ride on your boat or trailer.​

If you are moving a boat:

  • CLEAN the boat - CLEAN all visible aquatic plants, zebra mussels, and other prohibited invasive species from watercraft, trailers, and water-related equipment before leaving any water access or shoreland. Washing your boat is a good first step, but remember that live mussels can be found up to 30 days after removal from the water - boats have many nooks and crannies where invasive species can hide. DISPOSE of unwanted bait, including minnows, leeches, and worms, in the trash. It is illegal to release bait into a waterbody or release aquatic animals from one waterbody to another. If you want to keep your bait, you must refill the bait container with bottled or tap water.

  • DRAIN the boat - DRAIN water-related equipment (boat, ballast tanks, portable bait containers, motor) and drain  bilge, livewell and baitwell by removing drain plugs before leaving a water access or shoreline property. Keep drain plugs out and water-draining devices open while transporting watercraft.

  • DRY the boat - Remember that live mussels can be found up to 30 days after removal from the water. How do you know if your boat is dry? Check out the Dry Time Estimator.

Hauling a boat commercially? Locate information here.

Boat Haulers - Call Before You Haul

To prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species, the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, Bonneville Power Administration, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Western Regional Panel on Aquatic Nuisance Species, and others are making information available to boat haulers, auctioneers, marinas, manufacturers, and brokers to make it easy to comply with state, provincial and federal laws, prevent costly delays in transporting or selling boats, and help reduce the spread of aquatic invasive species. Locate information here.


In December of 2021, the four Columbia River Basin states (Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana),  launched a Call Before You Haul pilot program. The program has a toll-free number that commercial and other watercraft haulers can call before transporting a boat to Columbia River basin states. The caller provides information about the source and destination of the watercraft, and the four states (as well as Canada and British Columbia) are notified that the watercraft is being shipped. Destination, or through states, can then contact the hauler to obtain additional information, or make arrangements for the watercraft to be inspected, and decontaminated (if applicable).

The source states included in the pilot program are from the Great Lakes and Lower Colorado River regions (Arizona, Utah, Nevada, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin, and New York). If the pilot is successful, the program is intended to be expanded to all states and Canadian provinces.

As part of the program, information is being provided to each pilot state for uploading to its commercial hauler and overweight/oversize website and permit application system, which watercraft haulers will see when requesting transportation permits. In addition, direct outreach is being made to watercraft carriers and shippers online, boat dealerships and organizations, and boat brokers to inform them about the program.

Boat Design and Invasive Species

Design and Construction in Consideration of Aquatic Invasive Species (ABYC 2018)

Boats and associated equipment are considered to be major contributors to the spread of AIS. Boats that have come into contact with AIS waters can become a means of transportation of AIS through:

  • Standing water, which may contain AIS within the hull or water systems

  • AIS on the trailer or trapped between the boat and the trailer bunks

  • Attachment of AIS to the hull or components of the boat

  • Entrapment of AIS within the mechanical systems


Best Practices for Boat Design and Construction

  • Improve visual and physical access to areas subject to inspection and decontamination

  • Design wells and other areas for complete drainage

  • Implement external flushing ports

  • Seal strakes, keels, ribs, and other structural components

  • Design bilges to prevent water-trapping features

  • Select materials to allow complete drainage

  • Design features that facilitate inspection without the use of tools

  • Provide methods of identifying the location and function of through-hull fittings

Best Practices for System/Component Design and Construction

  • Design systems and components for complete drainage

  • Utilize universal flush inlet fittings

  • Provide methods to identify the location and function of through-hull fittings

  • Consider filtration devices for raw water systems

  • Select materials and coatings with consideration to the maximum temperatures that may result during decontamination

Best Practices for Propulsion System Design and Construction

  • Include AIS supplements in owner’s manuals

  • Standardize flush connections (e.g., common garden hose)

  • Utilize external flush adaptors or integrated flushing technologies

  • Utilize closed cooling systems (sterndrive/inboard)

  • Design easily drained raw water systems

  • Test engines to current decontamination procedures for adverse effects


Best Practices for Trailer Design and Construction

  • 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 material

  • Utilize open frame construction or self-draining tubular design

  • Components that are immersed in water during the normal launch and retrieval process, such as trailer lighting systems, should be self-draining or submersible

  • Components that are not normally immersed but which may come into contact with the high water temperatures and pressures of the decontamination process should be watertight and capable of withstanding exposure to 140°F

  • Incorporate a message to “Clean, drain, and dry the boat, trailer and equipment, removing any attached plant material or debris”

Additional Boat Specific Recommendations


NON-MOTORIZED WATERCRAFT - Canoes, rafts, kayaks, rowboats, paddleboats, inflatables, sculls, and other non-motorized recreational watercraft also require proper treatment.

  • Clean straps, gear, paddles, floats, ropes, anchors, dip nets, and trailer before leaving the water body.

  • Dry everything completely between each use and before storing.

  • Wear quick-dry footwear or bring a second pair of footwear with you when portaging between waterbodies.


  • Clean centerboard, bilge board, wells, rudderpost, trailer, and other equipment before leaving the water body.

  • Drain water from boat, motor, bilge, ballast, wells, and portable bait containers before leaving the water body.



  • Inspect and clean motor or engine, including the gimbal area; trailer, including axles, bunkers, and rollers; anchors; dock lines; and equipment before leaving the water body.

  • Drain live-wells, bait containers, ballast and bilge tanks, and engine cooling systems.



  • Inspect and clean hull, trailer, intake grate, and steering nozzle, etc.

  • Clean hull, trailer, intake grate, and steering nozzle, etc before leaving the water access.

  • Run engine 5 -10 sec to blow out excess water and vegetation from internal drive before leaving the water body.

Dry Time Estimator

If a boat moved from an infested area will be launched in waters that are not infested with zebra or quagga mussels, the general recommendation is to keep the boat out of water and let it dry for a minimum of 30 days after cleaning all equipment and draining all possible sources of standing water. However, such "quarantine" times may be reduced depending on local temperatures and relative humidities.


In general, zebra and quagga mussels can survive longer out of water if local conditions are cold and humid than if conditions are hot and dry. This tool estimates recommended quarantine times based on average humidity and temperature zones in the 48 contiguous United States.


If a boat has been in infested waters, please use this tool to estimate the minimum time it should remain out of water (after being cleaned thoroughly), before launching in uninfested waters. Recommendations are only guidelines for average conditions and are based on evidence from laboratory experiments where other factors are held constant. Thus, recommended quarantine times may not produce 100% mortality under real-world conditions where unidentified, yet contributing factors are free to vary. This tool will provide a minimum quarantine time that you may need to adjust upward if your situation includes additional contributing factors that may be important. Along with this tool, please use your best judgment before launching a potentially contaminated boat in uninfested waters.



           Maximum Daily Temperature (°F)                                        Minimum Days Out of Water


                          30-40                                                                    28       (4 weeks)

                          40-60                                                                    21       (3 weeks)

                          60-80                                                                    14       (2 weeks)

                          80-100                                                                    7       (1 week)

                             >100                                                                   3   

Note: Add 7 days for temperatures ranging from 32 °F to 95 °F if relative humidity exceeds 50% (McMahon, pers. comm. 2009).


ALWAYS CONTACT the destination state or province to understand the laws and regulations that jurisdiction has for boats coming from other states. To minimize travel delays and ensure compliance with state law, an inspection of your watercraft will be scheduled in your destination state.

[1] Equation used to create the Drying Time Estimator is from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Contract Report EL-93-1, June 1993, "Use of Emersion as a Zebra Mussel Control Method" by Robert F. McMahon, Thomas A. Ussery, and Michael Clarke, The University of Texas at Arlington.*

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