Boating laws - stop aquatic hitchhikers

A red stop sign with a graphic of a boat being launched and the text Stop Aquatic HitchhikersMichigan’s Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act (Act 451 of 1994) Part 413 was amended with changes for boaters and anglers that went into effect on March 21, 2019. The changes are intended to strengthen protection for Michigan waterways against the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species.

What boaters need to know:

Prior to the amendment, the law only required that a person not place watercraft or trailers in the waters of Michigan if an aquatic plant is attached. In addition to this requirement, the new changes require all of the following prior to transporting any watercraft over land:

  • Removing all drain plugs from bilges, ballast tanks, and live wells.
  • Draining all water from any live wells and bilges.
  • Ensuring that the watercraft, trailer, and any conveyance used to transport the watercraft or trailer are free of aquatic organisms, including plants.

This means that after trailering boats, and before getting on the road, boaters must pull plugs, drain water and remove plants and debris.

Violation of the law is a state civil infraction and violators may be subject to fines up to $100.