The Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) today announced the full implementation of the Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Watercraft Decal Program, developed more than a year ago to fund prevention efforts against aggressive invasive species, such as quagga and zebra mussels.
Entering its second year, NDOW has been focused on education and implementation, often warning boaters rather than issuing citations for missing decals. Now that the program has been up and running for more than a year, NDOW will be enforcing the decal requirement for all watercraft, including for non-motorized and out-of-state vessels.
"We often take little enforcement action on new laws until they are both fully understood and implemented," said Chief Game Warden Rob Buonamici. "Last year we put a tremendous amount of money and effort into educating boaters and paddlers about this law, but we are going to ramp up our enforcement efforts in the new year, starting February first."
For boaters who still may not be familiar with the law, it requires watercraft operators to purchase and affix an AIS decal before boating in any Nevada waterway. The requirement affects all boats, registered in Nevada or any other state, although California boaters on Lakes Tahoe and Topaz and Arizona boaters on the Colorado River system are exempt from the decal requirement.
All types of vessels are required to display the decal, but there are some exceptions for small watercraft that are incapable of retaining water, including stand up paddle boards and float tubes used by fishermen. The cost of the decal is $5 for in-state non-motorized vessels and $10 for in-state motorboats. The cost is $10 for out of state non-motorized vessels and $20 for out-of-state motorboats. The decal is available at NDOW offices, via the NDOW website or by calling (866) 703-4605.
The funds generated by the decal program are being used to create a comprehensive AIS prevention program. To prevent the spread of invasive species, NDOW must conduct constant monitoring and testing of waterways. NDOW is also working with other agencies and entities to build and maintain wash stations that boaters can use free of charge to ensure that they are not spreading invasive species. In addition to the decal requirement, NDOW reminds boaters to clean, drain and dry all boats and associated equipment before leaving any body of water.
The new AIS decal program stemmed from the passage of AB167 during the 2011 legislative session. Nevada was one of the last states to pass such a bill to address aquatic invasive species. These various species of nonnative plants and animals can displace native species and create serious environmental and economic problems in waterways. One of the biggest dangers is quagga and zebra mussels that were discovered in Lake Mead in 2007, but other aquatic species and plants also pose a major threat.
The penalty for not having a decal is typically around $100 total including court costs. It is also illegal in Nevada to either knowingly or accidentally transport any aquatic invasive species.
The Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) protects, restores and manages fish and wildlife, and promotes fishing, hunting, and boating safety. NDOW’s wildlife and habitat conservation efforts are primarily funded by sportsmen’s license and conservation fees and a federal surcharge on hunting and fishing gear. Support wildlife and habitat conservation in Nevada by purchasing a hunting, fishing or combination license. Find us on Facebook, Twitter or visit us at www.ndow.org.