2019 was a groundbreaking year for preventing invasive species, WDFW says

Washington crab fishery delayed

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is celebrating what has been a landmark year for the prevention of invasive aquatic species.

In recent years, the Department has stepped up their efforts to combat invasive life in the state’s waterways – including zebra and quagga mussels, various invasive weeds and plants, and fish and amphibian diseases.

These species invade ecosystems outside of their traditional regions, and without natural predators or competition, can grow and negatively impact water quality, wildlife, power and irrigation systems, and human recreation.

“We’re at an all-time high in our efforts to prevent the spread of invasive mussels and other aquatic invasive species that can hitch a ride on boats and trailers into our state,” said Captain Eric Anderson, WDFW’s aquatic invasive species enforcement manager. “We couldn’t do this prevention work without the help of incredible regional partners in our neighboring states – and of course, the public. This isn’t just a win for invasive species prevention, it’s beneficial to the entire Pacific Northwest.”

According to WDFW, they have inspected over 32,000 watercrafts, which they say is a 31 percent increase over 2018. From these inspections, they found 18 vessels carrying invasive mussels and 1,200 vessels that did not meet their ‘Clean/Drain/Dry’ requirements.

They also carried out over 3,500 early detection monitoring samples – a preventative measure that can help crews identify the presence of invasive species before they grow out of control.

“Early detection monitoring is the next line of defense for identifying invasions early and preventing invasive species from establishing populations,” said Allen Pleus, aquatic invasive species unit manager for WDFW. “And the aquatic invasive species fight requires a broad range of management planning and actions to be successful.”

WDFW also worked with state, federal and tribal governments to conduct mock exercises in Kettle Falls, which including deploying and testing containment systems, boat inspections, public notifications, water monitoring, shoreline surveys and decontamination measures.

The Department says they owe these record-setting efforts to federal grants from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

For more information, visit the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife page on invasive aquatic species.