Ontario boating regulations to reduce spread of invasive species

Posted on January 5, 2022 | Updated on April 9, 2024

Starting January 1, 2022, watercraft in Ontario including canoes and kayaks will be classified as carriers of invasive species under the Invasive Species Act. Ontario boaters are now required to remove any aquatic plants, animals, or algae attached to watercraft, vehicles, or trailers before transporting watercraft overland or placing watercraft into a body of water.

The new rules will help prevent the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species prohibited in Ontario.

Aquatic species prohibited in Ontario – marbled, red swamp, New Zealand mud, Prussian carp, mountain pine beetle

Plant species restricted in Ontario – yellow floating heart, Carolina Fanwort, European frogbit, Bohemian knotweed, giant knotweed, Himalayan knotweed, pig

Owners of watercraft will have to drain water from their boat or boat equipment and take reasonable precautions to remove all aquatic plants, animals and algae from any boat, boat equipment, vehicle, or trailer.

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Clean, drain, and dry method

Owners of watercraft will have to use what the province is calling “clean, drain, dry” method to slow or stop the spread of invasive species between bodies of water.

Clean your boat and gear

Before you transport your boat overland, clean any mud, vegetation, algae, mussels or any other animals from your boat, motor, trailer, vehicle or equipment. Aquatic species like the Zebra Mussel will hang onto the hull of your boat. Plant species like the Eurasian water-milfoil will hide on your motor, anchor and trailer.

Drain all water by opening or removing your drain plugs

Drain all water by pulling the plug on your transom, bilge, or any other water holding device at the boat launch and before transporting your boat overland. This does not apply to drinking water systems, marine sanitary systems or closed engine cooling systems. This does not apply to a livewell as long as the person transporting the livewell has a licence to transport live fish.

Dry or disinfect

Some invasive aquatic species can survive up to two weeks out of water. You may not even know they are on your boat as they may not be seen with the naked eyes. Before travelling to a new body of water, you can take either of the following steps:

  • dry your boat in sunlight
  • clean your boat from top to bottom with hot water or pressurized water

Avoid aquatic plants

Try to avoid driving your boat through aquatic plants because propellers can break them loose and spread invasive species.

The provinces knows it may not be possible to fully remove all aquatic plants, animals or algae at the boat launch. Boaters can move their boat to a location where they can remove aquatic plants, animals and algae using a pressure washer or other equipment.

Do you want to find out what species could be threatening your area? Download the EDDMapS Ontario app.

If you spot an invasive species, you can call the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunter’s hotline toll free at 1-800-563-7711. Or, you can report an invasive species using the EDDMapS Ontario app.

Invasive species action plans

Invasive Species Act, 2015, S.O. 2015, c. 22 – Bill 37

Regulating 13 invasive species and watercraft as a carrier of invasive species under Ontario’s Invasive Species Act, 2015

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