It’s more than the law! Two reminders to share at the start of boating season

About a month ago it was announced that the Biden Administration will allow high-ethanol gasoline, or E15, to be sold during the summer months as a way to lower fuel prices.

Many boaters don’t know that E15 gasoline (fuel blended with 15 percent ethanol) destroys engines in a wide range of commonly used consumer products, including boats, generators, and lawnmowers. It is against federal law to use E15 in these engines, but 85 percent of consumers are unaware that it is illegal to do so and that it will void any engine warranties. In fact, 3 in 5 consumers mistakenly assume that E15 is safe for all their products and say the current E15 warning labels are inadequate.

MBIA is supporting the Consumer Protection and Fuel Transparency Act as it moves through Congress. This Act would require better labeling and consumer education on the correct fuel choices. Until proper labeling is in place, please help educate those who purchase fuel in your household that Ethanol free fuel, commonly called Rec Fuel, is the only choice for your boat.

It is also important for all boaters to be educated on their role in helping to stop the spread of Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS). Zebra Mussel, Round goby, Eurasian watermilfoil, and Asian Carp are only a few on the long list of AIS that threaten our Michigan waterways and fisheries. Boaters, anglers, paddle craft, field workers, all have a responsibility to help stop the spread of AIS and the best way to do this is to diligently Clean, Drain, and Dry when leaving one body of water and before entering another body of water.

Since 2019, boaters are now required by law to not only remove all plants from their boats and trailers and other conveyances, they must also remove drain plugs and drain bilges, ballast tanks, and live wells. MBIA also reminds anglers of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Order 245. Essentially, it says that it is unlawful to release baitfish in any waters of the state, collecting fish as bait can only be done on an inland lake and used where it is caught. Baitfish can only be released back into the original location, i.e. the same stream or lake where they were caught. The best practice is to dispose of baitfish on land or in the trash.

Clean, Drain, and Dry steps are below:

CLEAN off visible aquatic plants, animals, and mud from all equipment before leaving water access. Rinse equipment and boat hulls (with high pressure, hot water when possible). Rinse interior compartments of boats with low pressure, hot water (120°F). Flush motor with hot water (120°F) for 2 minutes (or according to owner’s manual). Some launch sites will have boat wash stations on site. Use them or find a nearby car wash location that is capable of spraying down boats.

Invasive seeds, shoots, and eggs can be tiny and can hide in plants, dirt and mud and cling to or hide in the creases and cracks of clothing and equipment, including tire treads and other parts of vehicles and boats. From there, they can work free at the next lake or stream you visit.

DRAIN motor, bilge, livewell, and other water containing devices before leaving water access.

DRY everything for at least five days OR wipe with a towel before reuse.

MBIA is proud to be at the forefront to educate boaters on their role in helping to stop AIS and you should be too. While it is the law, it is also much more. It is important for us all to be diligent with the clean, drain, and dry steps to help preserve our lakes and streams and to protect our fisheries for our use and for future generations.

Nicki Polan is the Executive Director of the Michigan Boating Industries Association and a former Michigan State Waterways Commissioner.  As a lifelong boater, whose family enjoys boating in both Oakland and Branch counties, Nicki enjoys sharing information about the benefits of the boating lifestyle, legislative issues affecting the boating industry, and the incredible and diverse boating and fishing opportunities available in our Great Lakes state.