Albany, NY - May 26, 2016 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the adoption of new regulations that will help protect New York State’s waters from the spread of aquatic invasive species and preserve local ecosystems. Signed into law by Governor Cuomo in September 2014, the regulations prohibit the launch of watercraft prior to taking ‘reasonable precautions,’ including the removal of visible plant or animal matter, proper material disposal in a receptacle or upland location, and treatment by operators launching watercraft or floating docks into public waters.
“We all share a responsibility to protect our environment, and these proactive measures are an important step forward as we work to keep our waters pristine and safeguard local ecosystems this boating season,” Governor Cuomo said. “Preventing the spread of invasive species in New York’s waterways will help ensure that our natural treasures remain major economic assets for years to come.”
With over 7,600 freshwater lakes, ponds and reservoirs and 70,000 miles of rivers, brooks and streams, New York State is particularly vulnerable to the introduction of invasive species. Once established, aquatic invasive species, such as spiny waterflea and Eurasian water milfoil, can rapidly spread through connecting waterbodies or by “hitchhiking” on the vessels of recreational boaters and anglers. These regulations are an important step in Governor Cuomo’s initiative to preserve New York’s vast waterways from the danger aquatic invasive species can cause to the environment, human health and the economy of a region.
Department of Environmental Conservation Acting Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “Aquatic Invasive species can cause serious harm to our native species, aquatic ecosystems and water-based tourism. These new regulations require actions to prevent the spread of invasive species to be taken by anyone launching or attempting to launch a boat or floating dock into a public waterbody. Floating docks, boats, trailers and associated equipment are among the primary means that aquatic invasive species can be moved between waterbodies.”
Senator Tom O'Mara, Chairman of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee, said, “Individual boaters are the front line of defense against the spread of invasive species, and the implementation of this new initiative offers a straightforward approach asking all boaters to do our part to help protect waterways, regional tourism economies and local jobs. Taking every possible step to stop the spread of destructive invasive species before they take hold is the most cost-effective and common-sense approach to combat this severe threat to the environment and economy of the Finger Lakes and other waterways statewide.”
Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton said, “I am very pleased to see that regulations to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species in New York have been adopted. We know that the impact of species such as hydrilla and zebra mussels, which have both been a problem in my district, is devastating to our recreational and water-dependent industries if they overwhelm native ecosystems in water bodies across the state. Preventive action by boaters, as my aquatic invasive species legislation bill called for, and these regulations confirm, is the only long-term solution to keep our water free and clear of unwanted invasive species.”
Assemblyman Steve Englebright, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Environmental Conservation said, “Invasive species threaten New York's environment by diminishing biological diversity and changing entire ecosystems. These invaders are detrimental to the economy, and environment, as well as to New York’s recreational activities. These new regulations will potentially help to prevent and control aquatic invasive species.”
A 45-day public comment period was held from December 16, 2015 to February 1, 2016 on the proposed regulations. The new, final regulations and supporting information may be viewed by visiting the following link.
To learn more about aquatic invasive species and the threat they pose to New York State, please visit the following link.